The first non-Indian man known to visit the local Indians in the Tehachapi area was Father Francisco Garces in 1776. He didn't record much about them other than to record that they gave him food and were friendly people.
In 1826, mountain man Jedediah Strong Smith was the first American to come through the area. In April of 1844, explorer John Charles Fremont, along with Alexis Godey, Kit Carson and Edward Kern came through. In 1853 Lt. Robert Williamson came to the area looking for the best railroad route to the Pacific.
He asked the Indians what they called the creek and he recorded it was TAH-EE-CHAY-PAH, which he understood from the spoken Indian word Tehecita, which they called on of their villages as well as the nearby lake and the creek.
William Brewer, who worked with the California survey team between 1860 and 1864, said in his journal, "We crossed the ridge to Tehachapi." In 1876 the Southern Pacific Railroad officially affixed this spelling to the town. There are many variations of meaning of the word Tehachapi, such as "windy place," "plenty of acorns and water" and 'flat place covered with oaks" - all of which are appropriate. In the Kawaiisu dictionary there is a word "tiha-cipi-a" which means "hard climbing" which may be the most
In 1869, pioneer Peter D. Greene was appointed postmaster at the stage station at Oak creek, calling it "Tehichipa". In 1875, Greene was appointed postmaster of Greenwich. Greenwich was a viable population center until it ceased to exist in 1877 when the present City site was established with the coming of the railroad in 1876. The postal name Tehichipa applied to Tehachapi until 1893, when the name was officially to Tehachapi since neither Old Town nor Greenwich no longer existed.