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History of Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield, California, located on the Kern River, is geographically near to the southern end of the San Joaquin River at the base of the San Joaquin Valley. It's location has been the site of many generations of Native Americans, as it is where the first settlers found remains of the Native Americans in 1851. The settlers that first year were attracted to the area because of the discovery of gold. Some of the gold found was in the surrounding hills, but a large majority was found at the bottom of the Kern River. When the vast number of people began to settle into the valley, it became apparent that plans be laid out for all of the residents. The task was given to Colonel Thomas Baker and by 1869 he successfully had a layout for the growing town completed. The name that was given to the town was decided by finding something of importance, and deriving the name from that source. Baker decided that, because he had developed the plans for the town layout, he should look in his own 'backyard' for a name. After looking over his property, Baker decided to name the town after the alfalfa field, creating the name of Bakersfield. That field was well known in the area as Baker let travelers, going through the town, use it to feed their horses. Bakersfield continued to grow over the years as the Gold Rush continued. Although the gold was still be found, it became increasingly less common in the hills and river. The town had, at that time, become a center of trade and distribution when the major rail lines ran the railroad to Bakersfield in 1874. With the decrease in gold, Bakersfield residents found it necessary to develop a broad range of industries to keep the town diverse. Farmers of Bakersfield implemented the Kern River irrigation system that led to a major increase in the farming of grain, alfalfa and bringing water to the livestock. In 1899, the town's development took a wide turn when oil was discovered. This discovery was a major boom to the area once again and the petroleum industry skyrocketed. As the petroleum industry took off, it paved the way for the manufacturing industry to largely increase their production. The city is home to the California State University-Bakersfield, built in 1970, and a junior college that provides a fine education. Also in Bakersfield, is Maric College and Golden State College. The schools in the area share the same strong roots that country music has, being the birthplace of country singer Merle Haggard. Bakersfield is also home to many museums, including the Bakersfield Museum of Art, Kern County Museum, Buena Vista Museum Of Natural History, and the California Living Museum. Those museums have large collections on display. Live entertainment in the area can be found at the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Bakersfield Community Theatre, Bakersfield Fox Theater and the Phoenix Theater.