We combine surface structural measurements, subsurface seismic imaging, and magneto-stratigraphic dating to retrieve, through geometric modeling, the detailed history of fold growth and sedimentation across the Huerguosi anticline, on the northern Tianshan piedmont, taking advantage of a beautifully exposed section of growth strata. The model assumes a fault-bend folding mechanism, consistent with subsurface fold geometry. The shortening history is obtained by least-squares fitting of the measured dip angles of the growth strata. The shortening rate across the anticline is shown to have been remarkably constant: it increased only slightly from 0.84 ± 0.04 mm/yr between 10 and 4 Ma to 1.14 ± 0.02 mm/yr over the past 4 m.y. This approach also allows correcting syntectonic sedimentation rates for the effect of the fold growth and shows that the sedimentation rates in the piggyback basin increased abruptly from ~0.4 to ~0.7 mm/yr ca. 4 Ma.