California State Historical Landmarks in Kern County
Properties of historical importance in California are currently designated as significant resources in three state registration programs: State Historical Landmarks, Points of Historical Interest, and the California Register of Historic Places. Below is a list of the State Historical Landmarks for Kern County. This data is provided by the Office of Historic Preservation - California Department of Parks and Recreation and is also available in the California Historical Landmarks Book.
NO. 100 HAVILAH - Gold deposits at Havilah were discovered in 1864. Havilah was the county seat between 1866, when Kern County was organized, and 1872, when the government was moved to Bakersfield. Havilah was an active mining center for more than 20 years, and there are still some operating mines in this vicinity.
Location: State plaque in front of Bodfish post office, NE corner of Miller St and Kern River Canyon Rd, Bodfish - private plaque S side of 1866 county courthouse, Caliente-Bodfish Rd (P.M. 279), Havilah NO. 1022 SHAFTER COTTON RESEARCH STATION - The Shafter Cotton Research Station, established here in 1922 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, developed the "Acala" varieties which were exceptionally well suited to the San Joaquin valley. The quality of the acala cottons and the marketing advantage of the one variety cotton district, created in 1925, resulted in premium cottons with a world-wide demand. Through the continued vision and cooperative efforts of growers and researchers, production of acala cotton became one of California's largest agricultural enterprises.
Location: 17053 Shafter Avenue, Shafter NO. 130 WILLOW SPRINGS - Willow Springs was visited by Padre Garcés in 1776 while following the old Horse Thief Trail (later known as Joe Walker Trail) - Frémont stopped here in 1844, and the famished Jayhawk Party of 1850 found water here while struggling from Death Valley to Los Angeles. Still later, Willow Springs was a stage station of the Los Angeles-Havilah and Inyo Stage Lines.
Location: From State Hwy 14, go 6.8 mi W on Rosamond Blvd, then N 0.7 mi on Tehachapi Willow Springs Rd, then 0.6 mi NW on Truman-Manly Rd, Rosamond NO. 132 KERNVILLE - Called Whiskey Flat until 1864, Kernville was founded in 1860 when whiskey dealer Adam Hamilton moved shop here from more temperate Quartzburg, founded earlier that year. Both camps resulted from a discovery by 'Lovely' Rogers, who found the Big Blue Ledge while tracking a stray mule from the earlier camp of Keysville.
Location: Old Kernville Cemetery, Wofford Rd, 2.7 mi SE of Kernville NO. 133 SEBASTIAN INDIAN RESERVATION - The Sebastian or Tejón Indian Reservation (headquarters ten miles east of here) was established in 1853 by General Edward Fitzgerald Beale as one of several California reservations. The number of Indians quartered here varied from 500 to 2,000. General Beale acquired title to this area under Mexican land grant of 1843. In 1864 the U.S. government transferred the Indians to other reservations.
Location: Grapevine, NE corner of Grapevine Rd and 'D' St, 70 mi S of Mettler NO. 137 GORDON'S FERRY ON THE KERN RIVER - Gordon's Ferry was an overhead cable-type of ferry operated during the 1850s by Major Gordon. An adobe station house was located on the south bank of the Kern River, just a few yards to the west of this marker, which also served as a station on the Butterfield Overland Mail Route from 1856 to 1860.
Location: SE side of Kern River bridge, on China Loop, 1,000 ft S of Round Mountain Rd, Bakersfield NO. 277 GARCÉS CIRCLE - This is the approximate site of the Indian rancheria visited by Franciscan friar Padre Francisco Garcés on May 7, 1776. Padre Garcés named this spot San Miguel de los Noches por el Santa Príncipe.
Location: Center intersection of Chester Ave and 30th St, Bakersfield NO. 278 PLACE WHERE FRANCISCO GARCÉS CROSSED THE KERN RIVER - On May 1, 1776, Franciscan friar Francisco Garcés crossed the Kern River one mile north of here. Searching for a shorter route from Sonora, Mexico to Monterey, California, he was the first known explorer to describe this river, which he named Río de San Felipe.
Location: State Hwy 178 (P.M. 10.9) at Rancheria Rd, 11.0 mi E of Bakersfield NO. 283 TOP OF GRAPEVINE PASS, WHERE DON PEDRO FAGES PASSED IN 1772 - In 1772, Don Pedro Fages passed this site, traveling from San Diego to San Luis Obispo via Cajón Pass, Mojave Desert, Hughes Lake, Antelope Valley, Tejón Pass, Cańada de los Uvas (Grapevine Canyon), and Buena Vista Lake. He left the first written record of exploration in the south San Joaquin Valley.
Location: On Lebec Rd, 0.6 mi N of Lebec NO. 290 DISCOVERY WELL OF KERN RIVER OILFIELD - Oil was discovered at 70 feet in 1899, when Tom Means persuaded Roe Elwood and Frank Wiseman, aided by Jonathan, Bert, Jed, and Ken Elwood, George Wiseman, and John Marlowe, to dig here for oil. On June 1, 1899, 400 feet to the north, Horace and Milton McWhorter drilled this region's first commercial well.
Location: On Round Mountain Rd, 0. 7 mi E of China Grade Loop, 7 mi NE of Bakersfield NO. 291 FAGES-ZALVIDEA CROSSING - In 1772, Don Pedro Fages, first recorded non-Indian to visit the southern San Joaquin Valley, crossed this spot on his way from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. Near this point crossed Father José María de Zalvidea in 1806, while accompanying the Ruiz expedition in search of mission sites.
Location: On State Hwy 166 (P.M. 19.0), 5.5 mi W of Mettler NO. 300 ROSE STATION - From 1853 to 1875 this site, originally a vaquero camp of the Sebastian Indian Reservation, was known as Rancho Canoa (trough). In 1875, Wm. B. Rose built an adobe stage station on the site of the Overland Mail way station established 1858. Rose Station was a stockmen's headquarters, post office, and polling place.
Location: NE corner of Grapevine Rd and 'D' St, 70 mi S of Mettler NO. 371 OUTERMOST POINT IN THE SOUTH SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY (VISITED BY PADRE GARCÉS IN 1776) - Padre Garcés, first recorded non-Indian to visit this locality, came in April of 1776, seeking a new route from Mexico to California. His epic journey covered more than two thousand miles of uncharted wilderness, opening trails that later became highways and railroads.
Location: Courtyard of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, 350 E Bear Mountain Blvd, Arvin NO. 374 TULAMNIU INDIAN SITE - The old Yokuts village of Tulamniu was named Buena Vista by Spanish Commander Fages in 1772. Fr. Zalvidea again recorded the site in 1806. This village was occupied for several centuries, and in 1933-34 its site was excavated by the Smithsonian Institution.
Location: 300 ft SE of Block House #BV4, 1.1 mi N of Buena Vista pumping station, 8 mi E of Taft NO. 376 CALIFORNIA STANDARD OIL WELL 1 - This well was one of the early wells that in 1899 started a new oil field called the McKittrick Field. The well pumped about 150 barrels of oil per day for the first six months - its last production was in April 1929.
Location: McKittrick Field, 400 ft N of Well #CS-54, 0.4 mi N of State Hwy 50 (P.M.. 15.1), 1 mi S of McKittrick NO. 382 COLONEL THOMAS BAKER MEMORIAL - In 1863 Colonel Baker, friend to all travelers, came here to found 'Bakers Field.' His motto was, 'Time will justify a man who means to do right.' This civic center is his dream come true.
Location: City Hall, SW corner of Truxtun and Chester Aves, Bakersfield NO. 457 INDIAN WELLS - After five days' travel from the Argus Range, the Manly-Jayhawker parties of 1849 found their first water at this Indian waterhole on the Joseph R. Walker Trail of 1843. During the 1860s, this was the site of a stage and freight station for traffic between Los Angeles and the Coso and Cerro Gordo Mines.
Location: Indian Wells Lodge, 4.9 mi N of Freeman Jct (Hwys 14 and 178) on Hwy 14 (P.M. 62.6) NO. 476 DESERT SPRING - This spring was on an old Indian horse thief trail and later (1834) Joe Walker Trail. The famished Manly-Jayhawk Death Valley parties (1849-50) were revived here after coming from Indian Wells through Last Chance Canyon. This was also a station on the Nadeau Borax Freight Road.
Location: SE corner Pappas Ranch, on Pappas Rd, then walk 1/4 mi W toward trees, 0.5 mi S of Valley Rd, 3.7 mi E of Cantil post office NO. 485 LAKEVIEW GUSHER 1 - America's most spectacular gusher blew in here on March 14, 1910. Initially 18,000 barrels per day, the flow later reached an uncontrolled peak of 100,000 barrels per day, completely destroying the derrick. This Union Oil Company well produced nine million barrels of oil in 18 months.
Location: Petroleum Club Rd (County Rd 277T, P.M. 1.1) between Kerto and Cadet Rds, 1.5 mi N of Maricopa via Hwy 33 NO. 492 BUTTONWILLOW TREE - This lone tree, which gave the town of Buttonwillow its name, served as a landmark on an old trans-valley trail. An ancient Yokuts Indian meeting place, it later became the site of settlers' stock rodeos. Miller and Lux established their headquarters and store here about 1885.
Location: On Buttonwillow Dr, 0.5 mi N of State Hwy 58, Buttonwillow NO. 498 McKITTRICK BREA PIT - Located one-eighth mile west of here is an ancient asphaltum seepage in which hundreds of Pleistocene Age (15,000-50,000 years ago) birds and animals were trapped. The site was first explored in 1928 by the University of California - excavation was completed in 1949 by the Los Angeles and Kern County museums.
Location: SW corner of intersection of State Hwy 33 (P.M. 33. 5) and State Hwy 58 (P.M. 15.4), 0.5 mi S of McKittrick NO. 504 BUENA VISTA REFINERY - Eight miles due west of this marker stood one of California's first commercial oil refineries. Between August 1864 and April 1867, approximately 4,000 gallons of illuminating oil produced there was shipped to San Francisco by the Buena Vista Petroleum Company. Refining operations terminated due to excessive transportation rates.
Location: NE corner State Hwy 22 (P.M. 41.1) and LoKern Rd, 10 mi N of McKittrick NO. 508 TEHACHAPI LOOP - From this spot may be seen a portion of the world-renowned Loop completed in 1876 under the direction of William Hood, Southern Pacific railroad engineer. In gaining elevation around the central hill of the Loop, a 4,000-foot train will cross 77 feet above its rear cars in the tunnel below.
Location: On Old State Hwy, 3.2 mi E of Keene exit, 6.5 mi W of Tehachapi NO. 539 POSEY STATION OF BUTTERFIELD OVERLAND MAIL LINES - Two and one-half miles east of this point stood the Posey Station on the Butterfield Overland Stage route that ran from St. Louis, Missouri through present-day Kern County to San Francisco during 1858-61, until the outbreak of the Civil War.
Location: NE corner of Bakersfield-Glennville Rd (Ca Rd 365AY, P.M. 8.3) and Round Mountain Rd, 11 mi NE of Bakersfield NO. 540 SINKS OF THE TEJÓN, ALSO KNOWN AS ALAMO, STATION OF BUTTERFIELD OVERLAND MAIL LINES - Six miles east of this point was the site of the Butterfield Stage Line station Sinks of Tejón. Operating through present Kern County during 1858-61, this famous line ran from St. Louis, Missouri to San Francisco until the outbreak of the Civil War.
Location: SW corner of intersection of David and Wheeler Ridge Rds, 6.0 mi NE of Mettler NO. 581 WELL, 2-6 - Near an area of small 40- and 50-barrel wells, it blew in over the derrick top November 27, 1909, with a production of 2,000 barrels a day and started one of the greatest oil booms California ever experienced. Well 2-6 was located as a wildcat, on June 1, 1909 by Fred C. Ripley.
Location: 100 ft W of Fellows Fire Station on Broadway, Fellows NO. 588 KERN RIVER SLOUGH STATION - Just south of this point stood the Kern River Slough Station on the Butterfield Overland Stage route. Operating through present Kern County during 1858-1861, this famous line ran from St. Louis, Missouri to San Francisco until the outbreak of the Civil War.
Location: On Panama Rd (Co Hwy 244, P.M. 9.0), 3.1 mi W of Lamont NO. 589 MOUNTAIN HOUSE - One and one-half miles north of this point stood the Mountain House Station on the route of the Butterfield Stage. Operating through present Kern County during 1858-1861, this famous line ran from St. Louis, Missouri to San Francisco until the outbreak of the Civil War.
Location: Dry Creek, on Bakersfield-Glenville Rds (Co Rd 363AZ, P.M. 19.1), 6.3 mi SW of Woody NO. 631 GARCÉS BAPTISMAL SITE - Three miles north of this point was the site of the first recorded Christian baptism in the San Joaquin Valley. On May 23, 1776, Padre Francisco Garcés, earliest non-Indian in this area, baptized an Indian boy whom he called Muchachito at a Yokuts Rancheria in Grizzly Gulch.
Location: On State Hwy 155 (P.M. 18.8), 77 mi W of Woody NO. 643 OLD TOWN (TEHACHAPI) - The oldest settlement in Tehachapi Valley, known as 'Old Town,' was established here during the 1860s. Long an important station on the road between Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, the community began to decline when residents gradually moved to nearby Greenwich, later renamed Tehachapi, after completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1876.
Location: NE corner of Old Town Rd and Woodford-Tehachapi Rd, 1.3 mi N of State Hwy 202, 2.5 mi W of Tehachapi NO. 652 20-MULE-TEAM BORAX TERMINUS - Just west of this point was the Southern Pacific terminus for the 20-mule-team borax wagons that operated between Death Valley and Mojave from 1884 to 1889. The route ran from the Harmony Borax Mining Company works, later acquired by the Pacific Coast Borax Company, to the railroad loading dock in Mojave over 165 miles of mountain and desert trail. A round trip required 20 days. The ore wagons, which hauled a payload of 24 tons, were designed by J. W. S. Perry, Borax Company superintendent in Death Valley, and built in Mojave at a cost of $900 each. New borax discoveries near Barstow ended the Mojave shipments in 1889.
Location: 16246 Sierra Hwy (Hwy 14), Mojave NO. 660 POINT ON THE JEDEDIAH SMITH TRAIL - About February 1, 1827, Jedediah Strong Smith, first American to reach Mexican California overland, passed near this spot with his party of fur trappers. From San Gabriel Mission, the group was en route north to a land reported teeming with 'plenty of Beaver.' Smith and his men were trailblazers whose exploits soon led to the American conquest of California.
Location: SE corner of Old Bena and Tower Line Rds, 3.6 mi E of Edison NO. 671 SITE OF THE TOWN OF GARLOCK - In 1896, Eugene Garlock constructed a stamp mill near this spot to crush gold ore from the Yellow Aster Mine on Rand Mountain. Known originally as Cow Wells by prospectors and freighters during the 1880s and early 1890s, the town of Garlock continued to thrive until 1898, when water was piped from here to Randsburg and the Kramer-Randsburg rail line was completed.
Location: 74 mi W of State Hwy 395 on Garlock Rd, 13.4 mi NE of Cantil post office NO. 672 LAVERS CROSSING - In 1854, John C. Reid filed a squatter's claim on this spot - the same year Kern County's first school class was held here. In 1859, David Lavers, with his father and brother, John, built a hotel and stage barn on the old Bull Road. The crossing was the principal community in Linn's Valley until about 1870.
Location: NE corner of White River and Jack Ranch Rds, 1.1 mi W of Glennville NO. 690 SITE OF THE LAST HOME OF ALEXIS GODEY - Near this site stood the home of Alexis Godey, frontiersman and scout, who lived here from 1883 until his death on January 19, 1889. Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1818, he acted as guide for John C. Frémont's expedition through the Kern area in 1843-44, and was honored for his services at the Battle of San Pasqual in 1846.
Location: 414-19th St W of Union Ave, Bakersfield NO. 732 SITE OF THE HOME OF ELISHA STEVENS - Near this spot stood the last home of Elisha Stevens, noted American pathfinder and scout. Born in Georgia April 5, 1804, he learned blacksmithing during his youth - then, drifting west, he became a trapper on the upper Missouri for more than two decades. In 1844 he led the 50-member Murphy-Townsend wagon train safely from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Sutter's Fort. During the Mexican War he served as an ordnance mechanic under Commodore Stockton. For a time he lived in Santa Clara County, then settled here on a 38-acre tract, the first permanent settler in the Bakersfield district. He died September 9, 1887 and is buried in Union Cemetery.
Location: NW corner of W Columbus and Isla Verde Sts, Bakersfield NO. 741 BEALVILLE - Edward Fitzgerald Beale, serving under Commodore Stockton in 1846, established his home here on Rancho le Libre in 1855. He also engaged in mining and became Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California and Nevada, and Minister to Vienna.
Location: On Bealville Rd, 0.9 mi N of State Hwy 58, 1.3 mi S of Caliente NO. 742 CAMPSITE OF EDWARD M. KERN - Near this spot at the confluence of the north and south forks of the Kern River, the Theodore Talbot party of Captain John C. Frémont's third expedition to the West camped for several weeks during December 1845 and January 1846. Frémont named the river in honor of Edward M. Kern, topographer for the expedition - Kern County was established in 1866.
Location: Entrance to Old IsabelIa Rd Recreation Area, on State Hwy 178, 2 mi N of the town of Lake IsabelIa NO. 766 FREEMAN JUNCTION - Explorer Joseph R. Walker passed this junction of Indian trails in 1834 after discovering nearby Walker Pass. After their escape from Death Valley, '49er parties split here to go west and south to the California gold fields. Here the bandit Tiburcio Vásquez preyed on stages and freighters traveling between the Kern River mines and Los Angeles and the mines of Bodie and the Panamints.
Location: On State Hwy 178 (P.M. 88.0), 0.2 mi W of junction with State Hwy 14 NO. 923 SITE OF THE FLIGHT OF THE GOSSAMER CONDOR - This plaque at Shafter Airport commemorates the world's first man-powered flight to complete the Kremer Circuit, August 23, 1977. The circuit, a figure eight around two pylons one-half mile apart, was completed in six minutes, twenty-two seconds. The plane was designed by Dr. Paul MacCready, Jr. and flown by Bryan Allen. A cash prize of 50,000 pounds was awarded by the Royal Aeronautical Society, London, England.
Location: Entrance to Shafter Airport, Lerdo Hwy, 5 mi E of Shafter
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: WASCO NO. 97 OAK CREEK PASS - In 1776, Father Francisco Garcés used the Oak Creek Pass to return to the Mojave after exploring the San Joaquin Valley, as did Frémont in 1844-1845. Until the railroad was built through the Tehachapi Pass in 1876, Oak Creek Pass was the only route used through the Tehachapi Mountains.
Location: On Willow Pass Rd, 4.6 mi S of Tehachapi Blvd, 74 mi SE of Tehachapi NO. 98 KEYSVILLE - From 1853 until 1870, Keysville was a center of both placer and quartz gold mining. On the knoll just below the townsite may still be seen the outlines of an earthworks fort, built to meet a possible Indian attack in 1863.
Location: On Black Gulch Rd, 2.0 mi S of State Hwy 155 (P.M. 70.0), 3.3 mi W of Lake IsabelIa
See Also: Statewide Historical Landmarks listed by County
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This file last modified on: Friday, October 15, 2004.
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