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Oldest Photo of Lancaster

This picture, taken in 1890, is quite possibly the oldest existing photograph of Lancaster. Central to the photograph is a segment of the Southern Pacific Railroad line, which connected San Francisco to Los Angeles. The construction of this line was a fundamental moment in the settlement of the Antelope Valley.

Local railroad work brought workers from diverse backgrounds, as well as infrastructure (including roads, water stations, stores, and housing). By 1885, Lancaster had a blacksmith, two active wells, and a “tent city” which primarily housed railroad workers. At the time this photo was taken, Lancaster was in the middle of its first boom.

To the far left of the photograph is the Lancaster Hotel, which was later destroyed by a fire in 1914. Located in the far distance, and to the immediate left of the train tracks, is the old train depot. Across from the train depot, and to the right of the train tracks, are a windmill and large water tower.

Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections

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