Kernville, CA

The Remnants of The West, Old Kernville, Resurfaces Due to Recent Drought

Drought uncovers flooded ghost town after more than 50 years© Provided by AccuWeather

Approximately 35 miles northeast of Bakersfield, California, the bustling town of Old Kernville once thrived. Reportedly named Whiskey Flat, the town had reportedly come into being towards the end of the Gold Rush of the 1860s. 

Located at the hills of Lake Isabella and the Kern River, Whiskey Flat got its new name following a massacre of the local indigenous tribes in 1863. During the massacre, it is said that 70 settlers killed Native Americans and forcibly exiled hundreds more.

According to AccuWeather and, all is not lost, it is said that…

When the waters of Isabella Reservoir are low enough, some of the remnants of Old Kernville are exposed and appear as tombstones. The elementary school and the old Methodist Church foundations are the most prominent features left from those years. 
A walk through the ghost-like surroundings fills one with magical visions of what it once was as a piece of pottery shard is discovered. An old metal pipe is sticking up from the lake bottom, a piece of rock wall appearing lost in the silt or maybe even a rusted bolt or faucet catches one’s eye. 
History continues even though it appears to be gone.
Image credit: Kern River Valley Historical Society - Old Kernville as it once was.

Old Kernville appears to be taken right out of a Western movie — once it served as the backdrop for many classics, featuring the likes of John Wayne, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, and more. 

While all of Hollywood glamour has long since been gone, one might not have ever guessed it was once completely underwater and has now mysteriously resurfaced.

“There were people here. There was life here. It survived explorers, massacres, gold rushes, massive floods, and tourism,” the Sierra Nevada Business Council wrote on its website. “But it could not survive progress and now sits in silence with very little to let one know that it was even here.”

Then eminent domain came knocking…

Imagine the shock of the residents of the Kern Valley, when they were told their homes were in the way of a new lake and they had to find a new home and make new roots.

According to the laws of eminent domain, the residents were forced to vacate their homes to make way for the lake. 

Old Kernville now lies at the bottom of the Isabella Reservoir.

And sometimes like now, when the rains have ceased their flow, the remnants make themselves visible…

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