Castaic, California

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For other uses, see Castac (disambiguation).
Unincorporated community
Castaic Dam (photographed October 7, 2007)
Castaic Dam (photographed October 7, 2007)
Location within Los Angeles County
Location within Los Angeles County
Castaic is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area
Location within the Los Angeles metropolitan area
Coordinates: 34°28′15″N 118°37′41″W / 34.47083°N 118.62806°W / 34.47083; -118.62806Coordinates: 34°28′15″N 118°37′41″W / 34.47083°N 118.62806°W / 34.47083; -118.62806
Country  United States
State  California
County Los Angeles
 • Total 7.278 sq mi (18.851 km2)
 • Land 7.261 sq mi (18.806 km2)
 • Water 0.017 sq mi (0.045 km2)  0.24%
Elevation[2] 1,280 ft (390 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 19,015
 • Density 2,600/sq mi (1,000/km2)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 91384, 91310
Area code(s) 661
GNIS feature ID 2582966
U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Castaic, California

Castaic, California (also Castec,[3] or Kashtiq[4]), is a rural unincorporated community located in the northern part of Los Angeles County, California. Many thousands of motorists pass through Castaic daily as they drive to or from Los Angeles on Interstate 5. Castaic Lake is part of the California Water Project and is the site of a hydro-electric power plant. Castaic is located approximately 40 miles (64 km) northwest of the downtown Los Angeles Civic Center and about 10 miles (16 km) north of the city of Santa Clarita, California.



The origin of the name Castec is the Chumash Native American word Kashtiq, meaning "eyes." Castec is first mentioned on old boundary maps of Rancho San Francisco, as a canyon at the trailhead leading to the old Chumash camp at Castac Lake (Tejon Ranch).[5] Modern Castaic began in 1887 when Southern Pacific set up a railroad siding, naming it "Castaic Junction."[6][7] Between January and April of 1890, the Castec School District assumed that new spelling, Castaic.[8][9]

Range War[edit]

Between 1890 and 1916, the Castaic Range War was fought in Castaic country over ranch boundaries and grazing rights. It was the biggest range war in U.S. history. A feud started over Section 23, where the Stonebridge subdivision is now. William Chormicle had legally bought the property, but William "Wirt" Jenkins was already storing grain on it and said he had filed for ownership. During a heated dispute, Chormicle and a friend shot and killed two of Jenkins's cowhands. They were acquitted in court.

However, Jenkins was the local Justice of the Peace with friends of his own, and the feud quickly grew into war. Former Los Angeles Rangers (with whom Jenkins had fought) and other notables were drawn in. The war claimed dozens of lives and foiled a negotiator, a forest ranger whom President Theodore Roosevelt had sent in to quell it.[10][11][12][13]

Ridge Route[edit]

The hamlet of Castaic began in 1915 with the opening of the original Ridge Route, which brought travelers looking for gasoline, water, food and lodging to the community. Some of the earliest businesses started in Castaic are Castaic Brick (founded 1927) and George Dunn's Wayside Dairy (founded 1929). Sam's Place (Sam Parson, proprietor) on the Ridge Route has long since gone and is now a memory. Castaic is a major truck stop along the Interstate 5 freeway.


Castaic has the last traditional cattle roundup—with horses, lariats, and branding irons—in Los Angeles County. It has been held by the Cordova family since 1834, when the family first settled here. Members of the Cordova family were scouts for the U.S. Army during the Mexican War in 1846 and helped identify bodies during the St. Francis Dam disaster in San Francisquito Canyon in 1928. Operations scaled back in 1967 when the government seized a thousand acres, including the ancestral ranch-house, for the planned Castaic Lake and dam.[14][15]


Castaic covers 7.3 square miles (18.9 km2) of area and includes the Val Verde and Chiquito Canyon areas. Castaic Lake is the southern terminus of the west branch of the California Water Project. A 1,175-megawatt pumped-storage hydroelectric plant at the north end of Castaic Lake captures the energy from the falling water descending toward the Los Angeles area.

Today travelers still enjoy stopping at Castaic for their needs but also enjoy nearby amenities including Castaic Lake and Pyramid Lake, where boating and swimming are favorite pastimes.


This region experiences warm and dry summers, with no average monthly temperatures above 71.6 °F. Although, during the months of June though September, the average high temperature ranges from the 90s to above 100 °F. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Castaic has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.[16]


The 2010 United States Census reported that Castaic had a population of 19,015. The population density was 2,612.5 people per square mile (1,008.7/km²). The racial makeup of Castaic was 13,607 (71.6%) White (57.1% Non-Hispanic White), 630 (3.3%) African American, 119 (0.6%) Native American, 2,162 (11.4%) Asian, 26 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 1,466 (7.7%) from other races, and 1,005 (5.3%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4,716 persons (24.8%).[17]

The Census reported that 18,946 people (99.6% of the population) lived in households, 69 (0.4%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized. This statistic, however, does not include the population of the North County Correctional Facility, a Los Angeles County Jail with a population of 3,800 fully institutionalized inmates.

According to the 2010 United States Census, Castaic had a median household income of $106,538, with 7.0% of the population living below the federal poverty line.[18] The population was spread out with 5,761 people (30.3%) under the age of 18, 1,717 people (9.0%) aged 18 to 24, 5,144 people (27.1%) aged 25 to 44, 5,302 people (27.9%) aged 45 to 64, and 1,091 people (5.7%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.6 years. For every 100 females there were 101.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.8 males.

There were 5,932 housing units at an average density of 815.0 per square mile (314.7/km²), of which 4,843 (84.2%) were owner-occupied, and 908 (15.8%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 6.7%. 16,231 people (85.4% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 2,715 people (14.3%) lived in rental housing units.[19]

Government and infrastructure[edit]

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) operates the Santa Clarita Valley Station in Santa Clarita, serving Castaic.[20]

Station 149 of the Los Angeles County Fire Department serves the community. The Castaic Town Council meets monthly. The web site is

The Castaic Union School District consists of four schools: three elementary schools and one middle school. Live Oak Elementary School, Castaic Elementary School and Northlake Hills Elementary School serve students in kindergarten through fifth grades. Castaic Middle School serves grades six through eight. The school district does not yet have a high school. Currently, Castaic high school students attend either Valencia High School or West Ranch High School in the William S. Hart Union High School District.

The community has a ZIP Code of 91384 and area code of 661.


Main article: San Gabriel Fault

On January 3, 2013, a pair of earthquakes of magnitude 3.1 (location: 34°36′36″N 118°38′06″W / 34.610°N 118.635°W / 34.610; -118.635, depth=9.0 km (5.6 mi)) and 4.2 (location: 34°37′12″N 118°37′48″W / 34.620°N 118.630°W / 34.620; -118.630, depth=8.9 km (5.5 mi)) were reported about 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) north of Castaic. The epicenter was 16 miles (26 km) from Santa Clarita, California.[21][22] [23]

Pronunciation controversy[edit]

The historical spellings of Castaic—Kashtiq, Castec, and Castac—have two syllables and long-time residents insist that Castaic is pronounced to rhyme with "beef steak." However, an alternate pronunciation has arisen with three syllables, to rhyme with "prosaic."[24] In 2013, at a meeting over the planned Castaic High School, people in attendance argued over which pronunciation was right.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Census
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Castaic, California
  3. ^ "Castec" is written on diseños (boundary maps) of Rancho San Francisco in the nineteenth century; it is the Chumash name in Spanish, since Spanish has no 'sh'.
  4. ^ John R Johnson, "The Trail to Kashtiq," The Journal of California Anthropology, vol 5, no 2, pp 188-198.
  5. ^ John R Johnson, "The Trail to Kashtiq," The Journal of California Anthropology, vol 5, no 2, pp 188-198.
  6. ^ Railroad stop history at Castaic
  7. ^ Castaic area history
  8. ^ Los Angeles Herald, Volume 34, Number 5, 18 April 1890
  9. ^ Los Angeles Herald, Volume 33, Number 92, 11 January 1890
  10. ^, Excerpts from court transcript
  11. ^ "America's Forgotten and Deadliest Range War"
  12. ^ LA Times, "Castaic's Great Range War."
  13. ^ SCV History, "The Great Range War"
  14. ^ LA Times, "Last Roundup."
  15. ^ The Signal, "When everybody was a cowboy."
  16. ^ Climate Summary for Castaic, California
  17. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  18. ^ [1] "Community Facts" American FactFinder, United States Census Bureau
  19. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Castaic CDP". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Santa Clarita Valley Station." Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Retrieved on January 21, 2010.
  21. ^ Hamilton, Matt (January 3, 2015). "Earthquake: 4.2 and 3.0 temblors recorded near Castaic". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  22. ^ "M3.1 - 13km N of Castaic, California 2014-12-31 06:27:41 UTC". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  23. ^ "M4.2 - 14km N of Castaic, California 2015-01-04 03:18:09 UTC". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  24. ^ SCV History, "Street Knowledge."
  25. ^ The Signal, "District decides on ‘Castaic High School’ name."