Many people traveling along State Route 58 through the Tehachapi Mountains get a glimpse of Oak Creek Pass however, most folks don’t realize that there’s history to be found there. I decided to research the history of the area and this is what I found according to Wikipedia, Calif. Historical Landmarks of Kern County and the Office of Historic Preservation, Calif. State Parks.
OAK CREEK PASS – is a mountain pass through the Tehachapi Mountains in Eastern Kern County; the pass sits at an elevation of 4,820 feet above sea level and connects the city of Tehachapi with the Mojave Desert.
The first European to use the pass was Franisco Garces who used the pass to return to the Mojave Desert after exploring the San Joaquin Valley in 1776. The pass was later used by John C. Fremont during his exploration of the west from 1843 to 1844; Fremont like Garces used it to cross from the San Joaquin Valley to the Mojave Desert; the pass would later be used by present day State Route 58. In 1876, the railroad was built just to the north through Tehachapi Pass; before that, Oak Creek Pass was the only route between the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert: ironically, the railroad was built on the 100 Anniversary of when Garces first used the pass.
Oak Creek Pass was registered as a California Historical Landmark on March 29, 1933; the marker at the pass reads, “NO. 97 Oak Creek Pass – In 1776, Father Francisco Garces used the Oak Creek Pass to return to the Mojave Desert after exploring the San Joaquin Valley, as did John C. Fremont in 1844-45. Until the railroad was built through Tehachapi Pass in 1876, Oak Creek Pass was the only route used through the Tehachapi Mountains”.