The Kern River Valley Historical Society is celebrating over 50 years of operation! Our mission is to preserve and communicate the rich and colorful history of this region. The Kern Valley Museum in downtown Kernville, next to the Post Office, welcomes visitors to explore our rich history.


49 Big Blue Road
PO Box 651
Kernville, CA 93238

(760) 376-6683


************  NOTICE **************




10 am to 4 pm
Thursday through Sunday

We are regularly closed:
New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Admission is Free

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What's Happening in APRIL 2020 - Please see CALENDAR

The Golden Trout Wilderness – The 40-Year Struggle to Preserve the Ancient Territory of the California Golden Trout, by Larry Holochwost and Gene Verbeet, 2015

Golden Trout are an ancient & unusually beautiful fish, found only in the wilderness waters of the Kern River. The story of 40 years of controversy, politics, and the persistence of a small army of people, including US Senator Alan Cranston and Martin Litton of Sunset Magazine, remained mostly unknown until recently.

Ardis Walker of Kernville was considered the spiritual leader of the struggle. A nephew of the “Shooting Walkers”, Ardis was born in 1901 and raised in the Kern River Valley gold mining town of Keyesville. After earning a degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California in 1927, and sailing through the Panama Canal to work for Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York for five years, Ardis returned home to the KRV. In 1937, Ardis married Gayle Mendelssohn, following a local tradition of marrying one of the smart & pretty women who had come to the KRV to teach school.

Gayle had grown-up in Strathmore, California, in the San Joaquin Valley.  She graduated from California Teacher's College in Fresno in 1932, and had recently traveled to China. She and Ardis built a home on a hilltop overlooking New Kernville, and together led the 40-year quest that in 1978 finally resulted in the establishment of the Golden Trout Wilderness.

Larry Holochwost and Gene Verbeet spent three years sorting through and archiving more than 6,000 documents, many cubby-holed in the until-then-untouched Walker House collections. In 2015 Larry and Gene published this first book about the neck-and-neck race for The Golden Trout Wilderness. The book showcases many historic black and white and beautiful color photographs of Gayle and Ardis, of the famed Golden Trout, and the spectacularly beautiful high country of the much-fought-over Wilderness.

Chapters in the book include: “What's All the Fuss About?”, from one of many historic magazine and newspaper articles; Joe Fontaine's description of the “The Fabled Kern Plateau", which was still an unroaded wilderness in 1956;  "Cast of 300 Characters"; and "The 40-year Timeline". Also included is a DVD, “Golden Remnant”, a documentary filmed in 1975 by NBC, showing Ardis visiting some of the logging clear-cuts that were drastically changing the Kern River watershed.

The third History Talk at the Annex for 2020 ~ “Ardis and Gayle Walker and the Quest to Save a Wilderness for the Kern River's Ancient Fish” ~ scheduled to be given by Larry Holochwost and Gene Verbeet at the Museum Annex this month, has sadly been cancelled, for now.

When the Museum reopens, this book will again be for sale at the Museum's Country Store.  It is also available for sale at the Forest Service in Kernville.