The first route down the San Joaquin Valley and across Tehachapi was built by the Southern Pacific in the 1870s. The track reached Delano on July 14, 1873, Caliente on April 26, 1875, and Mojave on August 9, 1876.
It had a monopoly in that region for some 25 years. Then, local San Francisco interests started to build a competing line from the bay area port of Richmond across the coastal mountains and south through the San Joaquin Valley. Work began from Stockton on July 22, 1895, reached Fresno on October 5, 1896, Hanford on May 21, 1897, Visalia on September 9, 1897 and Bakersfield on May 27, 1898. Almost before the line was completed, it was taken over by the Santa Fe in December, 1898 and became that railroad’s Valley Division.
The new line used trackage rights on SP to cross Tehachapi, the negotiations for which only succeeded after Santa Fe made active plans for its own separate line across the mountains between Bakersfield and the Mojave desert.