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The Old Tejon Pass (originally Tejon Pass), is a mountain pass in the Tehachapi Mountains linking Southern and Central California. The pass is located in Kern County, California, fifteen miles to the northeast of the present Tejon Pass. It runs at the top of a divide between a point about five miles east of the Rancho Tejon boundary in Tejon Creek Canyon, and Cottonwood Creek Canyon north of Antelope Valley. It lies at an elevation of 5,285 feet (1,611 m), and sits between two peaks of 5,491 feet (1,674 m) (to the west) and 5,566 feet (1,697 m) (to the east).

Old Tejon Pass
Puerto el Tejon
Old Tejon Pass is located in California
Old Tejon Pass
Old Tejon Pass
Tejon Pass (Kern County)
Elevation5,285 feet (1,611 m)
Traversed byunpaved road
LocationKern County, California
RangeTehachapi Mountains
Coordinates34°59′21″N 118°32′43″W / 34.98917°N 118.54528°W / 34.98917; -118.54528Coordinates: 34°59′21″N 118°32′43″W / 34.98917°N 118.54528°W / 34.98917; -118.54528
Topo mapLiebre Twins, CA



Old TrailsEdit

The ancient native trail which utilized what is now known as the Old Tejon Pass was found and explored in 1772 by Spanish explorer Pedro Fages.[1] The pass was used in 1776 by missionary explorer, padre Francisco Garcés. In 1806, Lt. Francisco Ruiz named it Tejon Pass while on an expedition into the San Joaquin Valley. Ruiz also named Tejon Canyon and Tejon Creek, all referencing the dead badger (or tejón) he had found at the canyon mouth.

In early 1827, the first overland American exploratory journey to California, led by Jedediah Smith, used the pass to move northwest from Antelope Valley into San Joaquin Valley, led by Native American guides familiar with the pass.[1]

Rancho El Tejón, a large 1843 Mexican land grant in the Tehachapi Mountains, was headquartered below the pass along Tejon Creek. Eventually, a road running straight north (from Elizabeth Lake), across westernmost Antelope Valley, and then over this Tejon Pass evolved. This route to the pass diverted from the El Camino Viejo at Elisabeth Lake, and from 1849 to before 1854 it was the main road connecting the southern part of the state to the trail along the eastern side of the San Joaquin Valley to the goldfields to the north.[2]

New route establishedEdit

In 1853, the road which used the Old Tejon Pass was surveyed by Robert Stockton Williamson of the U.S. Army for suitability as a rail-bed for the planned transcontinental railroad into California. It was found wanting. The commander of the expedition particularly found the wagon road over the pass to be "one of the worst" he had ever seen.[3] He much preferred the Grapevine Canyon route, a much better road further west. Williamson scouted it and found it would be far more suitable for rail lines and wagons if the bulk of the traffic henceforth went that way. The name "Tejon" was transferred west to the "Fort Tejon Pass," an integral part of the Stockton – Los Angeles Road, which was established through Grapevine Canyon. From then on, the old pass was used less and less; and eventually lost its designation on official maps.[2] Afterward, Fort Tejon was abandoned, and the "Fort" was eventually dropped from the pass' name, becoming simply, the Tejon Pass as it is known today.[3]


  1. ^ a b Smith, Jedediah S., [Harrison G. Rogers], and George R. Brooks (ed.). The Southwest Expedition of Jedediah S. Smith: His Personal Account of the Journey to California, 1826–1827. Lincoln and London, University of Nebraska Press, [1977] 1989, p134-5. ISBN 978-0-8032-9197-3
  2. ^ a b Where Rolls the Kern: a History of Kern County, California; Herbert G. Comfort; Enterprise Press; Moorpark, Ca; 1934; (#255); Chapter IV, "The Founding of Fort Tejon; pp. 21-52. "Before 1854, the' main line of travel into the valley was straight North from Elizabeth Lake across Antelope Valley, entering the San Joaquin by way of the original Tejon Pass, at the head of Tejon Creek, above the present headquarters of Tejon Rancho. The establishment of the Fort Diverted this general travel to the West almost 29 miles to the present Tejon Pass, then known as Fort Tejon Pass. As the Tejon Creek Pass was abandoned, the name Tejon Pass came to be used solely for the pass leading into Canada de las Uvas."
  3. ^ a b The Ridge Route: the Long Road to Preservation; Harrison Irving Scott; California Historian website;; accessed Nov. 14, 2011. "...The name [of today's] Tejon formerly belonged to another pass 15 miles further east. Lieutenant Robert Stockton Williamson of the Pacific Railroad surveyed the area in 1853. His party crossed the Tehachapis by "one of the worst roads I ever saw."

External linksEdit

  • See Map and profile of the Tejon Pass: from explorations and surveys made under the direction of the Hon. Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War, by Lieut. R. S. Williamson, Topl. Engrs. assisted by Lieut. J. G. Parke, Topl. Engrs. and Mr. Isaac Williams Smith, Civ. Engr.; 1853.
  •; Features a plate from the US Pacific RR Survey: Great Basin from the Summit of Tejon Pass, an 1853 view of the Old Tejon Pass, looking to the northeast in to the San Joaquin Valley.