KERN COUNTY ENCYCLOPEDIA A-Z
Ancient Coastline— shark teeth as big as human hands and remains of extinct seals and whales at Sharktooth Hill Bone Bed near Bakersfield attest to the sea-dwellers who once swam here in marine habitat connecting to the ocean.
Bakersfield to Bakersfield— a book by Bakersfield photographer Felix Adamo, chronicles his 2012 motorcycle excursion across America to other towns that share the Bakersfield moniker.
Buck Owens Crystal Palace spotlights Buck Owen’s influence on the rich legacy of country music and the “Bakersfield sound” with a music hall, restaurant, and museum (www.buckowens.com).
California Amphibian and Reptile Celebration— one of Kern River Preserve’s annual festivals, rolls out information by Herp-Ecology and instructive displays in Weldon in June.
“Cantil” in Spanish means ledge or steep rock. The Nevada and California Railroad established east Kern County’s Cantil as a station c. 1908 on the line from Owens Lake to Mojave, using “C” words for other stops in the section, such as Cambio (change) and Cinco (five).
Daisy the Super Drone— Monarch in Ridgecrest manufactures unmanned aerial systems with cameras for mapping and energy solutions. As part of its educational campaign, company founder and CEO Eileen Shibley wrote this children’s book which can be ordered through Russo’s Books.
Desert Junior and Senior High Robotics Club— (aka Scorpion Robotics) at Edwards Air Force Base competes in the national FIRST Tech Challenge and engages in community outreach.
Euskara— the ancient language still graces the lips of many members of Bakersfield’s Basque population. The Euskaran words gure ametsa mean our dream.
Fellows, Dick immortalized himself as California’s Bumbling Bandit. He consistently thwarted himself, owing to his inability to mount or stay on a horse. In one series of attempts around Caliente, he robbed a stagecoach, lost his horse, and dragged the chest to an embankment where he fell and broke his leg. The strongbox also crushed his foot. Read more about this failed thief in “Fellows’ Folly” on page 32.
Fire goats— instead of human crews, the Kern County Fire Department has sometimes sent in goats to clear brush during fire season.
Glennville Adobe— built by “Old Mountain Man” Thomas Fitzgerald before the Civil War, qualifies as Kern County’s oldest residence. Fitzgerald ran it as a trading post at the intersection of two Indian trails. Restored by the Kern County Museum and designated No. 495 California Historical Landmark in 1951, it has its original ceiling rafters and hand-hewn oak door and sits next to the Glennville Substation of the Kern County Fire Department.
Gordon’s Ferry— an overhead cable-type transport, operated on the Kern River during the 1850s. An adobe station house on the south bank served it as well as a link in the Butterfield Overland Mail route.
Holiday lights at C.A.L.M.— California Living Museum adds Yuletide cheer with millions of lights adorning the grounds (calmzoo.org/holidaylights-at-calm; 661-872-2256).
Housley, John— Kern County’s last surviving Spanish-American War veteran, died in 1982 at the age of 103.
Insect Lore Painted Lady Butterflies— from Shafter’s Insect Lore Bugseum, traveled in NASA’s Columbia Space Shuttle in 1999. Scientists put them aboard in chrysalides form to see if they would undergo metamorphosis in zero-gravity and beautiful butterflies emerged.
Jastro Park— constructed in 1917 and located between Truxtun and 18th Street, bears the name of Henry Jastro who managed it and donated the bandstand. From April or May until October, visit the spray area to “enjoy a splash or two with your children.”
Kelly Mine outside of Randsburg, one of the greatest silver mines in the desert West, accounted for roughly $12 million worth of silver between 1919 to 1928.
Kern River Preserve, Audubon’s— in Weldon, open sunrise to sunset all year, hosts four festivals annually, monthly nature education offerings, and monthly volunteer days. Kern Audubon Society usually meets first Tuesday evenings with presentations by outstanding speakers in ecology, history, biology, conservation, and ornithology (www.kern.audubon.org).
Levan Center for the Humanities focuses on delivering programs that foster a deeper appreciation for the humanities and involve the Bakersfield public in examining the relevance of the humanities in people’s lives (www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/levancenter).
Martinez, Avelino— died in 1936 at the reported age of 112, having worked as a groom for one of Joaquin Murrieta’s horse gangs and then at Rancho El Tejon. A Tehachapi mural tells his story.
Mojave Desert— the smallest and driest US desert, extends over much of eastern Kern County. More than 200 plants grow only in the Mojave, among them the Joshua tree.
Museum Trail joins four Bakersfield attractions—Bakersfield Museum of Art, Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science, California Living Museum, Kern County Museum, and notable points scattered between them. Download the brochure at VisitBakersfield.com/MuseumTrail for savings along the way.
Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center became the official new title of NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA, on March 1, 2014.
Oil fuels much of the planet, and Kern County generates 76 percent of all oil from California.
Oildorado Days celebrates Taft’s birthday every five years in October with field skills contests, parade, car show, crafts, concerts, and an emphasis on facial hair that “takes everyone back to a time when rugged pioneers carved out a bustling community in the middle of one of the world’s most productive oil fields.” Mark your calendar for the next one, in 2020 (www.taftoildoradodays.com).
Philippine Weekend began in Delano as a basketball tournament in 1975. Now the largest event of its kind in the state, it honors Philippine heritage on the last weekend in July (delanochamberofcommerce.org/philippine-weekend).
Quarries near Sharktooth Hill might yield fossils to folks who sign up for Paleo Digs through the Buena Vista Museum. Museum Field Guides explain the where and how, and diggers can keep all teeth and fossils they unearth “with the exception of scientifically significant or articulated fossils” (www.sharktoothhill.org).
Rush Air Sports packs trampolines, dodgeball courts, a foam pit, basketball hoops, climbing, wi-fi, and big-screen TVs into “40,000 square feet of adventure, excitement, and challenges” (www.rushairsports.com; 661-864-RUSH).
Shafter Cotton Research Station— established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1922, developed the high-quality Acala cotton that thrives in the San Joaquin Valley. Acala rates as one of California’s important agricultural successes.
Silver City in Lake Isabella has hundreds of Old West artifacts inside and out, original structures from Claraville and Whiskey Flat, and the reputation of sixth most haunted place in America by PBS’ This Old House online.
S.N.O.R.T.— acronym for Supersonic Naval Ordnance Research Track at China Lake.
Tehachapi Pass— Gateways to California by Don J. Baxter (1968) observed that, “At times it seemed as if all the orneriness in the Old West ran down the canyon and collected at the foot of Tehachapi Pass. For there seethed the freighting and railroad town of Caliente, where happiness—for some of its less solid citizens—was a shoot-out on payday.”
Thompson, Don has written poems about Kern County for 50 years, as well as many books and over 150 journal publications. The county recognized the Bakersfield-born bard’s contribution in 2016 by selecting him as its first Poet Laureate.
Ugly Sweater Wine Walk— Slip on a tutu-decorated sweater, buy a ticket, sample appetizers and regional wine and stroll to businesses for Main Street Tehachapi’s unusual Thanksgiving weekend fashion statement (www.mainstreettehachapi.org; 661-822-6519).
Vivid Dancer (Argia vivida)— a native dragonfly with a flight period dictated by prolonged warm spells, inhabits our seeps and streams. The male’s face and eyes are blue, while the female’s are tan.
Vulpes vulpes, the red fox, has a red coat, and white throat, chin, and belly, and lives in Kern County in the Sierra Nevada and lower elevations.
Walker, Joseph Reddeford— trapper, explorer, frontier sheriff, and Indian fighter, discovered the southern Sierra Nevada pass—subsequently called Walker Pass—in 1834. Surveyors reviewed it in 1853 and pronounced it “the worst of all known passes” for a transcontinental railroad route. Nonetheless, wagons made good use of it for getting to gold in the Kern River canyon and silver in the Coso and Panamint ranges.
Wasco’s president planter— After one term in office, 31st U.S. President Herbert Hoover looked into farming. He engaged experts to find prime agricultural land with the best combination of soil, water, and climate. On their advice, he purchased a 2,500-acre cotton farm here.
Xantusia vigilis— the desert night lizard, has lidless eyes with vertical pupils, and olive or gray soft skin that almost seems beaded. Xantusia dwells in desert terrain around Joshua trees, desert scrub, piñon-juniper, sagebrush, and yucca, and eats ants, termites, caterpillars, spiders, and similar critters.
Yeager at Edwards AFB— According to first-man-to-break-the-sound-barrier General Chuck Yeager in his autobiography, “Being at Edwards in the 1950s, I was part of the greatest era in research flying in the history of aviation. In less than five years, a whole new air force was dumped in our laps for flight testing, including most of the prototypes of today’s supersonic aircraft. The grandparents of the combat planes that fought in the skies over Vietnam in the sixties and seventies were all tested at Edward in the fifties.”
Zoppe, James— founder and director of the American Jousting Alliance, teaches medieval jousting, archery, and swordsmanship in Frazier Park (www.jameszoppe.com).