Fort Tejon Historical Association
Who will give a talk on:
THE HISTORY OF FORT TEJON
Sitting atop a steep mountain pass, Fort Tejon and its soldiers protected the Southern California frontier for ten years in the mid 19th century. Fort Tejon was established in 1854 in Grapevine Canyon at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. The original intent of the Fort was said to be twofold. First, to curb the theft of livestock by local Paiute Native Americans. Second, to presumably protect the Native Americans from the violent actions of white settlers.
Fort Tejon was located in the vicinity of the San Sebastian Indian Reservation, organized in 1852 as the first California reservation by Edward Fitzgerald Beale, then the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California and Nevada. After his appointment as Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1853, Beale submitted a plan to build Fort Tejon as his headquarters for administering Indian Affairs. The Fort was built in a location without any regard to a strategically defensible position.
Fort Tejon is noteworthy for having been one of the stations on the famed Butterfield Overland Stagecoach route which ran between St. Louis and San Francisco from 1858-1862.
The Fort fell victim to the great Fort Tejon Earthquake which occurred in the early morning hours of January 9, 1857. This earthquake, with an estimated magnitude of 7.9, was the last “big one” to hit Southern California. It was equal to or greater in magnitude than the San Francisco quake of 1906.
While Fort Tejon was not the primary headquarters of the United States Camel Corps, the camels were frequent visitors to the Fort after Edward Beale brought them overland from Texas in the fall of 1857 while surveying a wagon road from New Mexico to California that eventually became part of Route 66 and presently US Interstate 40 across New Mexico, and Arizona.
After 1861, Fort Tejon remained mostly unoccupied by soldiers until it was completely abandoned officially by the Army on September 11, 1864. The Fort grounds subsequently became part of Edward Beale’s Rancho Tejon, a Mexican land grant he had previously purchased while Surveyor General of California, prompting President Lincoln to describe him as “the monarch of all he surveyed”.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Karina Dunbar is the current sitting President of the Fort Tejon Historical Association (“FTHA”) and the Chairman of the FTHA Board. Her mission and goal is to preserve the history of Fort Tejon and bring the Fort to new heights.
As also the director of Fund Raising, Public Relations and Membership, she has brought Fort Tejon to the news media, quadrupled the social media audience and brought the use of credit card capability into the Post Store.
Aside from her duties and responsibilities on the Board, Karina has been serving the Fort for over 7 years as a state park docent and the volunteer coordinator. Her interpretive impressions include, but are not limited to, the Fort cook, laundress, corn husk doll and candle maker. She has also mended the Stars and Stripes and uniforms as needed and assisted in running the Post Store.
Mrs. Dunbar is also an American Civil War reenactor and participates in almost every Civil War event in Southern California.
Outside living history, Karina holds an undergrad degree in Criminal Justice Administration and has completed two years of law school. She is a paralegal with over 21 years of experience, 16 years of which have been concentrated exclusively in Bankruptcy Law.