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.

What's Happening

Tim Kelly led our Keyesville field trip on Saturday, April 27th.  The morning walk with the Historical Society included the townsite, fort and cemetery.  The afternoon walk looked at the archaeology of an evolving mining industry from traces of incidental hand-placer mining to the landscapes created by the industrial mining process.   

For a region whose mineral resources depopulated other mining communities across California in 1855, and whose press ranged from soaring praise to vitriolic denouncement, the historiography of the mining industry on the Kern River is surprisingly slender. Worse, these few sources are often contradictory, even at the level of basic dates and events. This slender record is unfortunate, for the "Kern River Excitement" (as it was known) not only closed the curtain on the California Gold Rush, but in the further growth of Kern River's mining industry over nearly a century, the region reflected the evolution of the mining industry at the regional and national level. Tim’s presentation covered the discovery of gold on the Kern River and the early growth of Keyesville and surrounding communities such as Solitaire and Erskinville.

Tim Kelly, works as an archaeologist for the Sequoia National Forest, and is a teacher of historical archaeology and cultural resource management at California State University, Bakersfield.