Before the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad, the area at the confluence of the Salinas and San Antonio Rivers was a part of the 12,000 acre Rancho La Pestilencia. The Rancho, owned by Bradley V. Sargent, was named for the unpleasant odor given off by sulphur springs nearby. When the Southern Pacific Railroad arrived in October 1886, they established a station and named it 'Bradley' after the landowner. A small community developed around the station, and later reached its peak when Highway 101 was routed through town and several businesses were opened; these included gas stations, restaurants, stores, a hotel and motel. By the 1960s, Highway 101 bypassed Bradley and most of these businesses closed. Today less than 100 people live in the small town.