Kern County, California
|Kern County, California|
|— County —|
|County of Kern|
|Country||United States of America|
|County seat (and largest city)||Bakersfield|
|• Total||8,161.42 sq mi (21,138.0 km2)|
|• Land||8,140.96 sq mi (21,085.0 km2)|
|• Water||20.46 sq mi (53.0 km2)|
|Highest elevation||8,755 ft (2,669 m)|
|Lowest elevation||206 ft (63 m)|
|• Density||100/sq mi ( 40/km2)|
|Time zone||Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8)|
|• Summer (DST)||Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)|
Kern County is a county spanning the southern end of the California Central Valley. Covering 8,161.42 square miles (21,138.0 km2), it ranges west to the southern slope of the Coast Ranges, and east beyond the southern slope of the eastern Sierra Nevada into the Mojave Desert. The population of Kern County was 839,631 in 2010, making it the eleventh most populous county in the state. Its county seat is Bakersfield. The county's economy is heavily linked to agriculture and to petroleum extraction. There is also strong aviation, space, and military presence, such as Edwards Air Force Base and China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station.
Spanish era 
Kern County was the site of the Battle of San Emigdio, in March 1824, between the Chumash Indians of the Santa Barbara Mission who rebelled against the Mexican government's taking over mission property and ejecting the natives. This battle with Mexican forces from Monterey under the command of Carlos Carrillo took place at the canyon where San Emigdio Creek flows down San Emigdio Mountain and the Blue Ridge south of Bakersfield near today's Highway 166. It was a low-casualty encounter, with only four Indians killed, and no Mexicans; the surviving Indians were pacified and brought back to Santa Barbara in June 1824 after a pursuit and negotiation in which many were allowed to keep their arms for the return march over the mountains.
American era 
In the beginning, the area that became Kern County was dominated by mining in the mountains and in the desert. County government was created in 1866 with the county seat in the mining town of Havilah, in the mountains between Bakersfield and Tehachapi.
The flatlands were considered inhospitable and impassable at the time due to swamps, lakes, tule reeds and diseases such as malaria.This changed when settlers started draining lands for farming and constructing canals, most dug by hand by hired Chinese laborers. Within 10 years the valley surpassed the mining areas as the economic center of the county, and the county seat was moved as a result from Havilah to Bakersfield in 1874.
The county derives its name from the Kern River, which was named for Edward Kern, cartographer for General John C. Frémont's 1845 expedition, which crossed Walker Pass. The Kern River was originally named Rio Bravo de San Felipe by Father Francisco Garces when he explored the area in 1776. Kern County was nearly named Buena Vista County for the large, and now drained, Buena Vista Lake between Bakersfield and Taft.
On July 21, 1952, an earthquake with the epicenter about 23 miles (37 km) south of Bakersfield, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale killed 12 people. In addition to the deaths, it was responsible for at least 18 injuries and more than $60 million in property damage. The main shock was felt over much of California and as far away as Phoenix, Arizona and Reno, Nevada.
Abuse trials 
Between 1983 and 1986, several ritual sex ring child abuse cases allegedly occurred in Kern County, resulting in numerous long prison sentences, all of which were overturned—some of them decades later, because, it was said, the prosecutors had coerced false testimonies from the purported child victims. The details of these false accusations are covered extensively in the 2008 documentary Witch Hunt, narrated by Sean Penn.
Kern County Clerk Ann Barnett announced in mid-June 2008 that the county would stop performing all civil marriage ceremonies. County officials cited budget and staffing constraints. The San Francisco Chronicle reported Barnett made her decision after county lawyers told her she could not refuse to marry same-sex couples.
Law and government 
Political registration 
According to the California Secretary of State, as of April 2008, Kern County had 283,732 registered voters. Of those, 101,580 (35.8%) were Democrats, 131,878 (46.5%) were Republicans, 10,752 (3.8%) were registered with other political parties, and 39,522 (13.9%) declined to state a political party. The cities of Bakersfield, California City, Maricopa, Ridgecrest, Taft, Tehachapi, and the unincorporated areas had a plurality or majority of voters registered Republican. All of the other cities and towns had Democratic pluralities or majorities.
|2008||57.9% 134,793||40.2% 93,457||1.8% 4,111|
|2004||66.5% 140,417||32.5% 68,603||1.0% 2,154|
|2000||60.7% 110,663||36.2% 66,003||3.1% 5,642|
|1996||53.8% 92,151||36.6% 62,658||9.7% 16,582|
|1992||45.1% 80,762||33.8% 60,510||21.2% 37,991|
|1988||61.5% 90,550||37.4% 55,083||1.1% 1,660|
|1984||65.0% 94,776||34.0% 49,567||1.0% 1,401|
|1980||59.7% 72,842||33.7% 41,097||6.7% 8,182|
|1976||52.3% 58,023||45.6% 50,567||2.1% 2,371|
|1972||60.1% 71,686||35.2% 41,937||4.6% 5,570|
|1968||46.6% 53,990||42.6% 49,284||10.8% 12,558|
|1964||41.2% 45,014||58.7% 64,174||0.1% 120|
|1960||50.4% 52,800||49.1% 51,440||0.4% 465|
|1956||51.3% 46,220||48.3% 43,533||0.4% 322|
|1952||55.1% 46,497||44.2% 37,240||0.7% 602|
|1948||41.6% 24,464||56.2% 33,029||2.3% 1,318|
|1944||44.0% 20,730||55.6% 26,205||0.5% 226|
|1940||37.3% 19,445||61.8% 32,202||0.9% 479|
|1936||24.2% 8,345||74.6% 25,726||1.2% 408|
|1932||25.1% 7,011||70.3% 19,634||4.6% 1,275|
|1928||62.7% 14,692||36.4% 8,541||0.9% 212|
|1924||46.1% 8,646||16.8% 3,159||37.1% 6,958|
|1920||49.0% 7,079||42.2% 6,095||8.8% 1,270|
Kern County is split between California's 21st congressional district, represented by Republican David Valadao, and California's 23rd congressional district, represented by Republican Kevin McCarthy.
In the State Assembly, Kern County is split between the following four Assembly districts:
- the 26th Assembly District, represented by Republican Connie Conway
- the 32nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Rudy Salas
- the 34th Assembly District, represented by Republican Shannon Grove, and
- the 36th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Steve Fox.
On Nov. 4, 2008 Kern County voted 75.5% in favor of Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.
Kern County is governed by a five-member board of supervisors. As of 2013, they are:
- 1st District, Mick Gleason.
- 2nd District, Zack Scrivner.
- 3rd District, Mike Maggard.
- 4th District, David Couch.
- 5th District, Leticia Perez.
According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 8,161.42 square miles (21,138.0 km2), of which 8,140.96 square miles (21,085.0 km2) (or 99.75%) is land and 20.46 square miles (53.0 km2) (or 0.25%) is water.
- East beyond the southern slope of the Sierra Nevada range into the Mojave Desert, and includes parts of the Indian Wells Valley and Antelope Valley.
- West from the Sierra across the floor of the San Joaquin Valley to the eastern edge of the Temblor Range, part of the Coast Ranges.
- South over the ridge of the Tehachapi Mountains.
County seat 
Cities and towns 
Cities over 300,000 
Cities over 50,000 
Cities over 10,000 
Cities under 10,000 
Census-designated places 
The following are census-designated places (CDPs) within Kern County: CDPs over 10,000
CDPs over 1,000
CDPs under 1,000
Formerly populated or historic places 
Adjacent counties 
||Monterey and Kings||Tulare||Inyo|
|San Luis Obispo||San Bernardino|
and Los Angeles
National protected areas 
The county has a large agricultural base and is a significant producer of oil, natural gas, hydro-electric power, wind turbine power and geothermal power.The county accounts for one-tenth of overall U.S. oil production, and three of the five largest U.S. oil fields are in Kern County. Kern is also noted for its mineral wealth, including gold, borate, and kernite. The largest open pit mine in California, which mines borax, is at Boron in Kern County.
Discovery and development 
Oil development began with the 1894 discovery of the Midway-Sunset Oil Field, now the third-largest in the United States, in the southwestern portion of Kern County near Maricopa. Yet it was an 1899 discovery along the Kern River, today part of the giant Kern River Oil Field, that was the breakthrough in Kern's oil production. Oil was refined here even before the establishment of the county. The Buena Vista Petroleum Company was organized and incorporated in 1864. Soon thereafter a refinery was built that operated until April 1867 when work ceased because of high freight charges.
It was in the Midway-Sunset Oil Field that well drillers brought about the 1910 Lakeview Gusher, the largest recorded oil strike in U.S. history. The well spewed approximately nine million barrels for a 18 months onto the adjacent terrain before workers finally were able to cap it.
Other big oil fields in southwestern Kern County discovered early in the 20th century include the Buena Vista, the South Belridge and the Cymric fields. The latter is the fastest-growing field in California in terms of barrels produced per year. Later large fields include the Kern River Oil Field, the fifth-largest in the U.S., the adjacent Kern Front Oil Field, the Mount Poso Oil Field in the lower foothills of the Sierra north-northeast of Bakersfield and the Fruitvale Oil Field, which underlies much of the city of Bakersfield, along and north of the Kern River.
On July 22, 2009, Occidental Petroleum announced it had discovered the equivalent of 150 million to 250 million barrels of oil in Kern County, which the company called the largest oil discovery in California in 35 years. The find added about 10 percent to California's known reserves. Occidental's Ray Irani said it is likely that more oil would be found in the areas outside the initial six wells that tapped the discovery. Occidental has not revealed the exact location of the find, two-thirds of which is natural gas. BNET, an industry web publication, said the find would add to the company's 708 million barrels of proven reserves in California.
Petroleum today 
The county today contributes more than three-quarters of all the oil produced onshore in California. Some of the large oil fields in Kern County which are still active include:
- Buena Vista Oil Field
- Cymric Oil Field
- Edison Oil Field
- Elk Hills Oil Field
- Fruitvale Oil Field
- Kern Front Oil Field
- Kern River Oil Field
- Lost Hills Oil Field
- McKittrick Oil Field
- Midway-Sunset Oil Field
- Mountain View Oil Field
- Mount Poso Oil Field
- North Belridge Oil Field
- Round Mountain Oil Field
- South Belridge Oil Field
Aviation and space 
Department of Defense facilities include Edwards Air Force Base and China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station. As home to Edwards Air Force Base the Air Force's main flight test facility, Kern has been the site of many milestones, including the first supersonic flight and the first landing of the Space Shuttle. The base has brought prosperity to the railroad towns of Mojave and Rosamond. Kern County is also the home of the first inland spaceport in the United States, the Mojave Spaceport.
Air pollution 
Kern County suffers from severe air pollution. Particulates cause poor visibility, especially in the winter. Western Kern County lies in the San Joaquin Valley and the topography traps pollutants. Although the topography is not as unfavorable in eastern Kern County, eastern Kern County is a non-attainment area for particulates.
Metropolitan Statistical Area 
The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated Kern County as the Bakersfield, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area. The United States Census Bureau ranked the Bakersfield, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area as the 63rd most populous metropolitan statistical area and the 68th most populous primary statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012.
According to the 2000 census, Kern County's population was 661,645. It was the fifth-largest county by population in California. The center of population of California is located in Kern County, in the town of Buttonwillow .
|Source: US Census|
The 2010 United States Census reported that Kern County had a population of 839,631. The racial makeup of Kern County was 499,766 (59.5%) White, 48,921 (5.8%) African American, 12,676 (1.5%) Native American, 34,846 (4.2%) Asian (1.9% Filipino, 1.0% Indian, 0.3% Chinese, 0.2% Korean, 0.2% Vietnamese, 0.1% Japanese), 1,252 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 204,314 (24.3%) from other races, and 37,856 (4.5%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 413,033 persons (49.2%); 43.4% of Kern County residents are of Mexican heritage, 1.0% Salvadoran, 0.5% Puerto Rican, and 0.4% Guatemalan.
According to the census of 2000, there were 661,645 people, 208,652 households, and 156,489 families residing in the county. The population density was 81 people per square mile (31/km²). There were 231,564 housing units at an average density of 28 per square mile (11/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 61.6% White, 6.0% Black or African American, 3.4% Asian, 1.5% Native American, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 23.2% from other races, and 4.1% from two or more races. 38.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 8.4% were of German, 7.2% American and 5.7% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000. 66.8% spoke English, 29.1% Spanish and 1.0% Tagalog as their first language.
There were 208,652 households out of which 42.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.6% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.0% were non-families. 20.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.03 and the average family size was 3.50.
In the county the age distribution of the population shows 31.9% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 18.7% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 105.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.3 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $35,446, and the median income for a family was $39,403. Males had a median income of $38,097 versus $25,876 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,760. About 16.8% of families and 20.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.8% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.
Racial and ethnic identity 
- White Non-Hispanic (49.5%)
- Hispanic (38.4%)
- Other race (23.2%)
- Black (6.0%)
- Two or more races (4.1%)
- American Indian (2.6%)
- Filipino (1.6%)
- Asian Indian (0.7%)
(Total can be greater than 100% because Hispanics may be counted in any race.)
Major highways 
Public transportation 
- Arvin Transit is the local municipal bus operator in and around Arvin.
- Delano Area Rapid Transit is the local municipal bus operator in Delano.
- Golden Empire Transit is the local bus operator in and near Bakersfield.
- Kern Regional Transit provides countywide intercity bus service.
- Taft Area Transit is the local municipal bus operator in and around Taft.
- Kern County is also served by Greyhound and Orange Belt Stages buses and Amtrak trains.
- California City Municipal Airport, California City. (FAA: L71)
- Delano Municipal Airport, Delano. (IATA: DLO)
- Inyokern Airport, Inyokern. (IATA: IYK)
- Kern Valley Airport, Kernville. (FAA: L05)
- Lost Hills Airport, Lost Hills. (FAA: L84)
- Meadows Field, Bakersfield, an international and general aviation airport. (IATA: BFL)
- Mojave Airport, Mojave. (IATA: MHV)
- Shafter Airport (Minter Field), Shafter. (IATA: MIT)
- Taft Airport, Taft. (FAA: L17)
- Tehachapi Municipal Airport, Tehachapi. (IATA: TSP)
- Wasco Airport, Wasco. (FAA: L19)
Chaparral comprises a considerable portion of the natural area within Kern County; the species diversity within these chaparral habitats, however, is considerably less than in many other regions of California. California Whitethorn is a prominent example of chaparral species on the rocky slopes of the Sierra Nevada as well as the Inner Coastal Ranges. California Buckeye is a notable tree found in both chaparral and forests and whose southern range terminates in Kern County.
Among the outdoor recreational activities are horseback riding, water skiing (Lake Buena Vista, Lake Ming, and private ski ranches), off-road biking and dune buggies (Jawbone Canyon, California City and Randsburg), auto racing (Willow Springs, Buttonwillow, Bakersfield Speedway, Famoso, and an unnamed half-mile speedway under construction), hunting, paint-ball courses, white-water rafting, kayaking, snow skiing (Shirley Meadows and Mount Pinos), shooting ranges (5 Dogs Creek Range), hiking, biking (trails, paths, and roads), camping and fishing.
- The Bakersfield Californian, Kern County
- Mountain Enterprise, southwest Kern mountains area
- Mojave Desert News, east Kern desert area
- The Daily Independent, Ridgecrest, China Lake, and The Indian Wells Valley
- The Kern Valley Sun, Kern Valley area
- Tehachapi News, Tehachapi
- Taft Midway Driller, Taft
- The Delano Record, Delano
See also 
- List of museums in the San Joaquin Valley
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Kern County, California
- Physical Features of Kern County. County of Kern. Accessed: 07-22-2010.
- "Kern's population growth explodes over last decade, Census data shows". Kern COG Quarterly (Kern Council of Governments). Spring 2011. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
- Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California. The History Company, Publishers. San Francisco, 1886. pp. 532-536.
- Hoover, p.128
- Angus M Gunn, ed. (2008). "Kern County, California, earthquake". Encyclopedia of Disasters: Environmental Catastrophes and Human Tragedies. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 419. ISBN 978-0-313-34002-4.
- Truth In Justice. Accessed January 28, 2008.
- Witch Hunt at the Internet Movie Database
- The San Francisco Chronicle, 2 counties to halt all weddings, gay or not, Wednesday, June 11, 2008 
- "California's 8th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
- "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
- "Senators". State of California. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
- "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
-  Rio Tinto Borax. Accessed July 3, 2007.
- "2008 Report of the state oil & gas supervisor". Department of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources. California Department of Conservation ("DOGGR 2009"). 2009. Retrieved March 10, 2010. p. 66
- San Joaquin Geological Society article on the gusher.
- California Department of Conservation, Oil and Gas Statistics, Annual Report, December 31, 2006, p. 2
- Hluza, A.G. Calloway Area of Fruitvale Oil Field: California Division of Oil and Gas, Summary of Operations. 1961. Vol. 47 No. 2. 5-6
- DOGGR (2009), 63
- Hoover, p. 134
- Particulate Matter (PM-10) Nonattainment Area/State/County Report, September 16, 2010 
- "OMB Bulletin No. 13-01: Revised Delineations of Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Micropolitan Statistical Areas, and Combined Statistical Areas, and Guidance on Uses of the Delineations of These Areas". United States Office of Management and Budget. February 28, 2013. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
- "Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012" (CSV). 2012 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. March 2013. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
- "Table 2. Annual Estimates of the Population of Combined Statistical Areas: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012" (CSV). 2012 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. March 2013. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
- California State Association of Counties
- E-1 Population Estimates for Cities, Counties and the State. California Department of Finance. January 1, 2011 and 2012. Accessed: 05-03-2012.
- Zonlight, Margaret. Land, Water and Settlement in Kern County, California, 1850-1890. Arno Press Inc, 1979. ISBN 0-405-11328-5. Page 257.
- Transportation History Timeline: Before 1900. KernCOG. Accessed: 04-21-2010.
- Population by counties 1900-1990, California. US Census. Accessed: 04-13-2010
- "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "City-data - Kern County, California". analyzed data from numerous sources. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- The Wasmann Journal of Biology (1967) University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, v.25
- Arthur Sampson (1963) California Range Brushlands and Browse Plants, ANR Publications, 162 pages ISBN 0-931876-54-0
- C. Michael Hogan. 2008. Aesculus californica, Globaltwitcher.com, ed. N. Strömberg
Further reading 
- Hoover, Mildred Brooke; Douglas E. Kyle (1990). Historic Spots in California. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-1734-2.
- Official website
- Kern government web portal
- Keysville Massacre, April 19, 1863 - original report from officer in charge.