Established in the 1870s, Caliente was originally named Allens Camp for a cattle rancher and settler named Gabriel Allen. Later, the name Agua Caliente, coming from hot springs in the area, was proposed and may have been used. This name conflicted with the community of the same name in Sonoma County. With the railroad's arrival in 1875, the shortened name Caliente was adopted.
Bealville is a district about one mile (1.6 km) to the south toward SR58 and along Caliente-Bodfish Road. It is named for Edward Fitzgerald Beale who served in the US Army, and also as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California and Nevada. He was also appointed as US Surveyor General of California. Beale established a home in this area about 1855. The location is commemorated by a State Historic Landmark plaque along Caliente-Bodfish Road.
The sound of diesel locomotives and railroad horns are present day and night. The community is along the track of the Union Pacific Railroad, Mojave Subdivision. The track loops around the post office as it winds through the local hills. Trains climb toward the Tehachapi summit eastbound or descend toward Bakersfield if westbound.
SR58 is about two driving miles south of Caliente.