2013 Insiders Guide

There are so many amazing things to discover about Kern County that we’re just waiting for the day when we run out of tidbits! Thankfully, longtime freelance writer Donna McCrohan Rosenthal continues to unearth fascinating facts about our past, present, and future that we are excited to share year after year.

Air-Cooled Hotel

Bakersfield’s El Tejon was the world’s first.


Kern County shares borders with seven counties: Inyo, Kings, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Tulare, and Ventura.



In the 1930s, the Kern County High School District had the nation’s largest bus system.

Chub Med

The Mohave Tui Chub, a federal and state-listed endangered species indigenous to the region but dwindling in numbers, has a new home. When channels at the Lark Seep System at NAWS China Lake went dry, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game trapped and moved them to a spot closer to the headwaters and dubbed it “Chub Med.”

Dust Bowl Days

Annual festival in Weedpatch, commemorates the hardships and sacrifices of the migrant laborers who came west to escape horrific Dust Bowl conditions in the Midwest during the Great Depression.

El Camino Viejo

Spanish for “The Old Road,” ran from Los Angeles to Oakland. According to legend, a pair of young lovers took the trail before anyone else when they eloped from Chile in 1822 with the bride’s furious father in hot pursuit.

Emporium Western Store

Opened for business in 1909. Isaac Rubin bought it in 1928 and it remains in the family to this day. The now block-long enterprise has supplied rodeo champs and other celebrities, among them Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Tony Curtis, and Kiefer Sutherland.


(Facility for Animal Care and Treatment) Located within the Environmental Studies Area of the California State University Bakersfield campus, FACT cares for injured and orphaned raptors and carnivores, promoting the conservation of wildlife through the rehabilitation of non-game species of native animals and through education with a major emphasis on endangered or protected species, particularly birds of prey.



Devastated 15 city blocks in Bakersfield on July 7, 1889, leaving 1,500 residents homeless.

Gordon’s Ferry

Essential to the Butterfield Overland Mail that connected St. Louis and San Francisco in the 1800s, Aneas B. Gordon’s flat-bottomed boat with an overhead cable crossed one of the few places on the Kern River not blocked by thick swamps. The ferry has gone but a marker still stands. It was the first state-registered landmark, dedicated on January 17, 1937.

Harpending, Asbury

A Southern sympathizer in the Civil War who came west to advance the cause and wound up discovering gold on the Kern River, called his community “Havilah,” which means “Stretch of Sand.” The name derives from a Bible verse about “the land of Havilah, where there is gold.”

Hobo Hot Springs

a.k.a. Miracle Hot Springs, Air Compressor Springs, and Compressor Hot Springs, acquired the “hobo” designation when Borel Power Plant workers went on strike. The arbitrator sent to settle the dispute declared them a “bunch of hoboes” for camping out there.

Insect Lore Bugseum & Visitor Center

Insect Lore
Insect Lore

In Shafter, offers butterfly and ladybug learning, live insect exhibits, and hands-on activities…and admission is free.


Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds, a team of Bakersfield and Ridgecrest Mensans, competes in the annual countrywide Mensa Culture Quest, a high-IQ, highbrow trivia contest. The Tumbleweeds finished second in 2010, fourth in 2011, and first in 2012.



Cal State’s annual two-day Bakersfield Jazz Festival presents well-known headliners and local performers. At Cal State Bakersfield Student Union’s Jazz Coffeehouse, intimate concerts feature CSUB students and guest artists.


From pioneers and sheepherders to roughnecks, entertainers, and entrepreneurs—“folks with nothing to lose and everything to prove”—this extensive, in-depth website chronicles Kern County’s family-owned and longstanding businesses.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on TumblrPin on PinterestShare this