Introduction to Fort Tejon
At the top of Grapevine Canyon, the adobe buildings of Fort Tejon State Historic Park guard a beautiful, tree-lined meadow. Between 1854 to 1864, this U.S. Army fort protected people in the surrounding region from social and cultural conflicts between American settlers and California Indians.
The first U.S. Dragoons arrived on August 10, 1854, and began construction of more than 40 military buildings. A small civilian community developed just south of the fort to provide supplies and labor to the military. For almost ten years, Fort Tejon provided a source of employment, protection, and social activities for local residents.
On-Site School Tours
Teachers are you ready for an adventure? Fort Tejon State Historic Park offers self-guided, guided, and living history school tours.
Self-guided tours allow classes to enjoy the park at their own pace. Free self-guided brochures are available along with a scavenger hunt focusing on the park's historic zone. Additional information detailing the park's history and resources are available in the visitor center office. The visitor center, barracks, and officer's quarters are open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Self-guided tours are free, but reservations are required.
Guided tours of Fort Tejon State Historic Park usually lasts 2.5 hours. The tour begins with a brief orientation about the fort's history in the visitor center. Next, the students assemble on the parade ground for an 1850s basic military drill where they raise the historic garrison flag per army regulations of the period. The students will tour the historic places of the park to experience a picture of life on the frontier of California through the lens of a frontier army post. This includes going "behind the scenes" in areas of the historic buildings that are usually partitioned off as museum display space. The tour concludes with a cannon firing demonstration. Afterwards, your class may have lunch in the park in the shade of majestic Valley oak trees before departing. Guided tours are limited to 75 people per tour. This is due in part to staff/student ratios and capacity restrictions for our program spaces. Guided tours cost $5 per person. Children 6 and under are admitted free. Reservations are required.
Student Living History Program Day Option
The Student Living History Program Day Option usually last 5.5 hours with a 45 minute break for lunch. This day program provides a one-of-a-kind learning experience that takes students on a trip back in time to 1856, just a few years after California joined the Union as the 31st state. Students will engage in hands-on experiences of life on the California frontier through the eyes of a soldier stationed at a western U.S. Army outpost called Fort Tejon. The program begins in the visitor center with a brief introduction to Fort Tejon's history and progresses to basic army marching drills, the raising of the flag over the parade ground, and issuing a uniform to "new recruits". After being divided into squads, the students will participate in hands-on demonstrations of mid-19th century blacksmithing, cooking, and adobe brick making led by parks' staff and volunteers. The program will conclude "with a bang" during a cannon drill and demonstration. Finally, the students will travel back through time to their 21st century world. This program requires a minimum of 12 students and a maximum of 24 students. The Student Living History Program Day Option costs $35 per child and $10 per adult with a $50 deposit paid upon making a reservation for the program. Reservations are required.
Student Living History Program Overnight Option
This program, held from March through June, offers an immersive, living history experience that focuses on life in 1850s-era California through the lens of a frontier army post. The program is oriented towards students learning about mid-19th century U.S. or California history. The participants assume the role of an army recruit who just arrived at his new duty post in California in 1856. The "recruits" are issued a uniform, perform drills according to the army regulations of the time, participate in a variety of living history stations such as blacksmithing, adobe brick making, frontier carpentry, laundry and candle making, and cooking their supper in the officer's kitchen using period techniques and tools. They spend the night in the old army barracks where they might receive "mail call" that night. The next morning generally involves cooking breakfast, passing inspections, and a cannon drill before traveling through time back to the 21st century. Parent/adult pre-training is required to help run the program. The program requires a minimum of 20 students and a maximum of 45 students. This program costs $60 per child and $40 per adult with a $100 deposit paid upon making a reservation for the program. Teachers can book a reservation online for an overnight living history program your students will never forget.
For more information or to schedule a school tour, please contact Michael Deagon via email or phone (661) 248-6692. Tour fees are paid on the day of the tour by cash or check made out to "California State Parks".
Virtual School Tours
Explore Life in 1850s California at a Frontier Army Post explores life on the frontier of California in the 1850s through the lens of a remote U.S. Army post at Fort Tejon. Teachers visit the Fort Tejon State Historic Park's Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) page to book a unique 50-minute virtual school tour for your class at Fort Tejon State Historic Park through the California State Parks' PORTS program. NOTE: This program is best suited for grades 4th, 5th and 8th.