Space and Lancaster, Ca – Sepia Saturday

I wasnt sure what to post this week, I dont have anything old or sepia in my collection to go with the theme, but still wanted to do the theme because the Space Shuttle and things of that nature are big where I am from. So this post veers a little off from my usual posts on this blog.

So welcome to Lancaster, Ca also called The Antelope Valley

“Early in its history, Lancaster was little more than a whistle-stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad between San Francisco and Los Angeles….. The settlement grew quickly, however, and by 1890, Lancaster was quite prosperous. The town experienced another small boom at the turn of the 20th century when gold and borax were discovered simultaneously in the mountains around the Antelope Valley. With the advent of the aerospace industry came the groundwork for the modern city growth. In 1933 the United States Army Air Corps began conducting flight and weapons tests at Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base) and Lancaster has grown steadily since that time. It is home to many employees of Edwards Air Force Base, as well as to employees of Boeing, Lockheed, and Northrop Grumman, all of which have manufacturing facilities at U.S. Air Force Plant 42 which is south of the Lancaster city limits.”

from wikipedia

I live right off Challenger Way, which used to be 10th Street East. Was renamed as it was driven down this stretch of road(Posted on FB by Arawyn Walays in Space Shuttle Group) Discovery stops at Red Lights. Now Challenger Way – 10th Street East at Avenue J in Lancaster, CA From Palmdale Plant 42 through Lancaster to Edwards AFB.

I also grew up playing out at Apollo Park

On July 20th, 1969 Apollo 11 (XI) landed on the moon.  It left Florida on July 16th and was crewed by Commander Neil Alden Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr..At one point, the capsule was housed at a remote, obscure location called Apollo Park out in Lancaster, CA but they’ve since moved it to  Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey, Ca..  It had been located at Apollo Park for more than 30 years. (from

I used to run around this thing, the park was and still is out in the middle of nowhere, just a small little airport nearby. We would go out there to feed the ducks and ride our bikes. But this no longer sits there like it once did when we were kids, times have changed, and it really didnt seem like a safe place to keep it.
Also it was one of the last parks I remember with the large Rocket Ships for us kids to play on. There used to be one down the street from me at El Dorado Park that was still there in the 1990’s but they screened it in and you could no longer go up into the top. Playground equipment has changed so much these days. I played on items made out of Metal and wood. And had sand on the ground. Pretty much everything has been ripped out, astroturf, foam type things on the ground, plastic play things, nothing to tall, even canopies to block sun(remember hot metal slides!)

But I loved the Rocket Ship! (  Photograph taken on 13 June 2006 by Nathan Beach )

We also had another type of plaything at Jane Reynolds Park in Lancaster, it was another Rocket Ship and it was a Dark Blue and Red Color, but this one was a long dark tube with a ladder, made of metal, you climbed up this tall ladder in the dark with just some minor light shining in from the top and bottom openings and then the slide was a twisted one that wrapped all around the base. I played at that park all the time as a kid, today parents would have sued left and right over that thing and injuries, I cant seem to track down any photos of that type of slide, but it was one of my favorite things at Jane Reynolds Park back in the 70s-80s.

Also one of my first big “Events” in history, that I recall burned in my memory was when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. Jan 28 1986. I kept a journal in Junior High that I still have, I will let my entry speak about that day, excuse my spelling of course, I was a kid and didnt know all the astronauts or facts by name, it was just my recounting as a kid. I seem to recall sitting by the tv later at home and trying to print the names as I heard them as I noticed my script went from cursive to printing as I tried to jot things down quickly that I was hearing.

The crew we lost that day

Living in the Antelope Valley means we commonly are rattled by Sonic Booms, breaking of the sound barrier, various different planes flying over head, I cant say how cool it is to be standing in your backyard and this things flies over your head. Often flying over for a parade or local event.

Until next time, hope you have enjoyed this weeks post. 🙂



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23 responses to “Space and Lancaster, Ca – Sepia Saturday

  1. Both your journal and description of the playgrounds are fascinating. The main thing I really remember about the space program is Apollo 11.

  2. What a wonderful collection of pictures and how lucky to play around such artefacts! The journal is a gem!

  3. This is a fascinating and entertaining post. Times have changed every where for play equipment. We wrap our kids in cotton wool these days – they miss all the fun. Your history of Lancaster and its connection with the space age is a gem including the page from your journal.

    • Janet

      This is so comforting to read. I also grew up in Lancaster, Ca and lived right down the street from what is now Challenger Way. I was a kid when I saw the Space Shuttle being towed down 5th St East at the time. I could and never will forget that. Yes times have changed and how I wish we could bring back all those great times. I’m really sadden to hear that there will be NO more space shuttle lanches, but I am so thankful to have grown up in that era. Reading our journal brought back that memory back in 1986, what a very sad day 😦
      Wish we could bring them back. We will never forget.

  4. Wow! Those Playground Rides Must Have Been Brilliant To Play&Imagine on.You Were So Lucky To Be In The Middle Of All That History That Was Being Created.Great Photos & Post.

  5. Yes! I did enjoy your post , pictures and journal. The playground rocket is probably considered now to be more dangerous than a space shuttle.

  6. Wonderful post – it provides such a different view on things and perfectly blends together memories and images. It’s what Sepia Saturday is all about – and you have done it so well.

  7. What a great post. It’s great to see the picture of the Challenger crew and also very touching…along with your writings.

  8. Karen S.

    I’m still laughing at the beginning, well just another boring day…imagine that, those days really were the best ever really…no real worries, especially with stuff around like that completely awesome rocket ship slide and climbing funmobile!!! Great photos again too I might add!

  9. Wonderful post! I love the rocket slide, and the journal. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  10. Very thoughtful and well done. And I hope you won’t mind a small comment about your blog’s new look. The strong black background overwhelms the narrow text area and makes the small white text difficult to read. A more neutral color and larger font might complement the photos better.

  11. This is such an interesting post! You have some wonderful and historic memories there.

  12. i was watching when it exploded… “live”!!
    i called my mom who was out of town for her mother’s burial…
    she opened the tv at her brother’s and watched…
    she loved the space expeditions and watched them all,
    except this one, for obvious reasons, until i called her…

    yeah, i remember those metal slides. we had huge ones which frightened parents and delighted kids. it was worth the climb!! and we don’t see any of those anymore…

    i would have loved to see one of those birds waiting at the corner. what a sight!!

  13. What a fun post! How strange to see the Apollo 11 capsule out there, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, as if it had been forgotten. It looks a bit like the glass shrine which used to contain Yuri Gagarin’s car in his home town.

  14. Oh my gosh! I remember playing in a rocketship like the one in the photo! I must have been quite small as I remember feeling like the top level was soo high. I grew up in Garden Grove Ca. so it must have been near there. Not in Long Beach though as even El dorado park would have been too far for my parents. Thanks for sharing.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  15. dave

    we had that same rocketslide at a park in bettendorf ia when I was 8 or ten. It was my fav slide….cool to see it again, cause kids today don’t have grand slides such as this!!

  16. You know, that Apollo capsule, way way back, never even had that glass enclosure. It just sat out there under a sun shade.

    And that metal rocket in El Dorado Park was something I climbed on and around way way back in the day, when that was the only thing out there in that part of town.

    Used to live in Quartz Hill, back when it was a street that ran alongside what used to be an airport.. that’s gone now.

    The only constant seems to be change itself. Dang.

    Great pull-together of tidbits. Great memories.

  17. rob

    I grew up in Lancaster from72 /94i remember everything there my dad worked on space shuttle after it blew up did not see him for about 3 to 4 months but miss it there played at applo park I went to eldorado school I wish my kids could have played on the space ships that would have a blast

  18. Annette

    Thank you for the walk back down memory lane. Your story is my story as well and a page in my memory banks. I lived on 7th St East and watched the Shuttle from our drive way. My father worked on the shuttle for Rockwell. I attended Joshua Elementary. My favorite things from back then….Apollo Park, the rocket ship at the local park, sonic booms, and 3 scoop ice cream cones at Thirfty’s.

  19. Jennifer

    Thank you for posting this. It is so hard to describe Lancaster area to people who have never been but you did great. I lived in the Antelope Valley from 1980-1991. We lived in Little Rock, Quartz Hill, Palmdale and a few places in Lancaster. I miss it a lot sometimes. I firmly believe people in the Antelope Valley hold this tragic event like it was a local loss, because of Edwards and Challenger Way.

  20. johnny

    Does anyone know of any history as to what happened to Hi Vista? There are streets that go no where, power poles and fire hydrants but no houses like as if a development was to be built and got halted. Then the house that are here 50% of them are abandoned, and seem to be built in the 40’s. Absoluly not one home is new. And what is ALTA VISTA sign in ave. G / 140th east.

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