Survey of Tehachapi
Valley in 1853
Lieutenant R. S Williamson was assigned by the U. S. government to conduct a reconnaissance survey of the west in search for a railroad route to California. Williamson and his scout Alexis Godey in August 1853 were searching the east slope of the southern Sierra Nevada for a pass known to be south of Walker Pass. On August 17, they ascended Cache Creek to Tehachapi Valley, and found the pass they were looking for. The following are Williamson's first impressions of the valley (Barras, 1984, p. 60):
... a steep and continuous descent for eight or nine miles, when we found ourselves in a beautiful prairie, apparently completely surrounded by high mountains, and as far as the eye could tell, it was a horizontal plain.Williamson, however did not record the meaning of Tah-ee-chay-pah. Some likely possibilities come the from Indian words for snow, or to freeze, a hard climb, a flat place, or People from Oak Flat. Today Tehachapi is known as the "land of four seasons."
We came to an Indian rancheria, where we learned there was a stream of water and good grass two or three miles further on. We proceeded to the place, and here found an excellent camping ground...
There was another rancheria close to the place selected for our camp, and from the Indians we learned that their name for the creek was Tah-ee-chay-pah. It is one called Pass creek by Colonel Fremont, and is the same one he ascended when he crossed the mountains in 1844.