Timeline - Kern County
California, including present-day Kern County, comes under Spanish rule.
Father Francisco Tomas Hermenegildo Garcés comes to the area now known as Kern County, arriving in the vicinity of a Tejon Indian settlement, later named Bakersfield.
Father Garcés comes upon a river he describes as crystalline, bountiful and palatable, which he names Rio de San Felipe, now known as the Kern River.
Father Jose Maria de Zalvidea and Lt. Francisco Ruiz lead an expedition into the valley and future Kern County area. Father Jose Zalvidea names the present Kern River “La Porciuncula.” Tejon Pass, Tejon Creek and Tejon Canyon (tejon is Spanish for badger) were named by Lt. Francisco Ruiz.
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest, launches the Mexican War of Independence, calling for the end of Spanish rule in Mexico. Eleven years later, the Treaty of Córdoba is signed, which makes Mexico independent and places California under Mexican control.
Jedediah Strong Smith, leading a party of fur trappers, is the first American to reach Mexican California overland. His party travels north from San Gabriel Mission to enter the southern San Joaquin Valley in the area later known as Kern County.
Walker’s Pass, a former American Indian trail, is used by Joseph Reddeford Walker as a path through the Tehachapi Mountains. Walker’s Pass is designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961.
Five Mexican land grants are established in the area later known as Kern County: Ranch San Emigdio, Ranchos Los Alamos Y Agua Caliente, Rancho El Tejon, Rancho Castac, and Ranch La Liebre. In the 1850s and 1860s, the latter four land grants are combined to form the Tejon Ranch.
The John C. Fremont party (including Kit Carson and Alexis Godey) passes through the valley on its second expedition.
Elisha Stephens travels through the Central Valley, eventually settling near Bakersfield in 1861.
Fremont’s third expedition names the Kern River for topographer Edward M. Kern.
Mexico cedes California to the United States with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ends the Mexican-American War.
California is admitted as the 31st U.S. state.
The U.S. opens treaty negotiations with the American Indians of the San Joaquin Valley.
Gold is discovered along the Kern River and, in 1853, at Greenhorn Gulch on Greenhorn Mountain.
The town of Keyesville is founded, named for Richard Keys.
Major Aneas B. Gordon is granted a franchise to operate a ferry across the Kern River on the Los Angeles-Stockton road. The ferry’s location is called Gordon's Ferry.
Lt. Robert S. Williamson and Lt. John B. Parke conduct a railroad survey of the area. Geologist William Blake, a member of the survey party, discovers marine vertebrate fossils at what is later known as Sharktooth Hill Bone Bed along the Kern River.
Edward Fitzgerald Beale, superintendent of Indian Affairs in California, arrives at Tejon.
The first sheep are raised in Kern County, on the Tejon Ranch.
The Sebastian Indian Reservation is established by Beale on 75,000 acres at Tejon Pass. The reservation houses 500 to 2,000 American Indians from 1853 to 1864.
People seeking their fortune come to the Kern River in the southern Sierra Nevada, sparking a gold rush in the area.
Fort Tejon is established as the headquarters of the First Dragoons, U.S. Army, to protect the residents of the nearby Indian reservation and suppress stock rustling.
The first attempts are made to organize Kern County as Buena Vista County.
The first post office in the area is established at Keyesville.
A telegraph line is built to Fort Tejon from Los Angeles.
The Overland Mail Company, or Butterfield Line, begins operations through the area now known as Kern County.
Durham cattle are introduced to the area.
Christian Bohna is the first to settle at Kern Island on the future site of Bakersfield.
Telegraph service from Los Angeles to San Francisco through Fort Tejon begins.
The Big Blue Mine is discovered by Lovely Rogers, sparking an influx of people to Whiskey Flat near the present town of Kernville.
The last military troops, including the Camel Corps, leave Fort Tejon.
Mining begins on Piute Mountain.
Harvey S. Skiles grows the area’s first cotton.
The town of Whiskey Flat is established (also called Williamsburg). The town’s name is changed to Kernville in 1864.
Col. Thomas Baker and his family arrive at Kern Island and move into the former Bohna home. Baker begins reclaiming the swamplands in the area. In two years, he plants 10 acres of alfalfa in an area roughly bordered by present-day 14th and 17th streets and K and P streets in what came to be known as Baker’s Field.
Gold is discovered at Havilah in the southern Sierra Nevada.
Thomas H. Barnes plants the first alfalfa.
The Buena Vista Oil Refinery incorporates.
Fort Tejon is abandoned by the U.S. Army and becomes part of Beale's Tejon Ranch.
Mead and Clark Company begins stage service between Havilah and Visalia. Philo and Solomon Jewett build the first store in Bakersfield and raise the county’s first commercial crop of cotton on their ranch.
Kern County is incorporated, having been formed from the southern portion of Tulare County and parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. The first county seat is in Havilah.
The first county hospital is established, at Havilah.
The first walnut grove is planted in Kern County.
The Board of Supervisors forms the first school districts, at Havilah and Linns Valley.
Kern County’s first newspaper, the Havilah Courier, begins publication.
A post office is established and named after Baker in the area formerly known as Kern Island. George B. Chester is appointed Bakersfield’s first postmaster.
J.B. Haggin organizes the Kern County Land Company.
Construction of the Kern Island Canal begins.
Baker dies of typhoid and pneumonia in Bakersfield.
The first county hospital opens in Bakersfield.
The county seat is moved to Bakersfield.
Construction of the Southern Pacific Railroad to Sumner, now known as east Bakersfield, is completed. Passenger service on the railroad begins the following day.
The Southern Pacific Railroad completes construction of the railroad tracks east to the town of Caliente.
Calloway Canal construction begins.
The Kern Island Canal Company begins distribution of water through its ditch system in Bakersfield.
New county courthouse is completed in Bakersfield.
The Southern Pacific Railroad line through the Tehachapi Mountains, including the engineering marvel known as the Tehachapi Loop, is completed.
First oil wells are drilled in county, near McKittrick.
Congress passes the Desert Land Act to encourage and promote the economic development of the arid and semi-arid lands in the western states.
The Bakersfield Courier-Californian becomes The Californian.
Commercial apple growing begins in Tehachapi.
The Bakersfield Water Company begins operating Bakersfield's first water system, including an octagonal water storage tower at 17th Street and Chester Avenue.
The Bakersfield Telephone Exchange is established. By the following year, there are 29 phones in service in Bakersfield.
The first public gas lighting is used in Bakersfield.
Rosedale Colony is founded.
The first electric lighting in Bakersfield is produced in a plant built by the Bakersfield Gas Company.
Capt. John Barker is the first to use local natural gas for domestic purposes, on his Rio Bravo Ranch near the Kern River.
The first commercial vineyard in Kern County is established at Delano.
Kern County High School opens.
The Kern River power transmission line to Los Angeles is completed.
The Yellow Aster Mine is established at Rand Mountain. The Rand Mining District is established and the town of Randsburg founded.
Superintendent of Schools Alfred Harrell purchases The Daily Californian and, in 1907, renames it The Bakersfield Californian.
The second incorporation of Bakersfield takes place.
The arrival of the San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley Railroad in Bakersfield (later Santa Fe Railroad) is celebrated with a parade in downtown Bakersfield. The first regular passenger train leaves Bakersfield on June 1.
The Discovery of Kern River Oilfield takes place.
An electric system is established in Bakersfield.
The Midway Oilfield is discovered.
Tehachapi News begins publication.
The first track is laid for an electric streetcar system in Bakersfield.
Free postal delivery begins in Bakersfield with two mail carriers.
The dedication of the Beale Memorial Library, the first free library in Kern County, is held in downtown Bakersfield.
Standard Oil Company begins construction on the first oil pipeline in the county. The pipeline, extending from the Kern River field north of Bakersfield to Point Richmond near the San Francisco Bay, is completed in 1902.
The first automobile, a 1902 1-cylinder Oldsmobile, is brought to Kern County by Joe Ferris of Caliente.
Killing of notorious gunman James McKinney in Bakersfield.
Beale Clock Tower is built in Bakersfield.
Construction begins on the Kern River Canyon Highway.
The first automobile garage in Bakersfield opens. The Bakersfield Garage is owned and operated by E.J. Erb.
Construction begins on the Los Angeles Aqueduct, a 233-mile long water conveyance system. More than 4,000 laborers tunnel through earth and rock to divert water from the Owens River along a path through eastern Kern County to a reservoir in the San Fernando Valley. The aqueduct is dedicated on Nov. 15, 1913.
Earl Warren, future chief justice of the United States, graduates from Kern County High School.
The Buena Vista Oilfield is discovered.
The Town of Oildale, originally called Waits, is founded.
Electric power service becomes available to rural parts of Kern County.
The Belridge Oilfield is discovered.
California passes women’s suffrage.
Bakersfield Junior College is established.
Barney Oldfield breaks the world’s record in a Christie race car, setting a speed record for one mile on a dirt track at the Kern County Fair Association race track.
Silas Christopherson becomes the first to pilot a plane across the Tehachapi Mountains to Los Angeles.
Construction of an unpaved road for automobile traffic from Bakersfield to Los Angeles across the Ridge Route is completed.
The first major draft registration for World War I takes place in Kern County, with 7,150 men enlisting in one day. The first draftees leave Kern County for duty on Sept. 9. Eventually, 3,676 men from Kern County serve in the military during World War I.
Grace Storey Dorris is the first woman elected to the California State Assembly by Kern County voters.
The Kern County Woolgrowers’ Association is founded.
The first steel derrick used to drill for oil is constructed in Kern County.
Kern County purchases 200 acres northwest of Bakersfield to build an airport, later named Meadows Field after Cecil Meadows.
The first airmail flight through Kern County stops in Bakersfield en route from Los Angeles to Seattle.
Henry Eggers, a local merchant, buys the first air-conditioning unit, for his clothing store from the Pioneer Mercantile Company.
The first automatic traffic signals in the county are installed on Chester Avenue.
Kern River Park opens. In 1947 it is renamed in honor of Kern County Supervisor John O. Hart.
Bakersfield’s Hippodrome Theatre is the first movie house in Bakersfield to screen a motion picture with sound.
The first television in Kern County is demonstrated at Weill's Department Store.
Bakersfield television station W6XAH makes its first successful broadcast.
A gold mining boom strikes in the Rosamond and Mojave areas.
The height of the Dust Bowl migration occurs, bringing thousands of people to Kern County.
The Shafter Federal Migratory Camp (also known as the Shafter Farm Worker’s Camp), the second migratory camp in Kern County, is built two miles north of Shafter to house Dust Bowl migrants.
Controversy over John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” prompts county supervisors to ban the book from Kern County libraries.
Kern County Museum is established.
The first aircraft factory in Kern County is built in Bakersfield. The Lockheed-Vega Corp. produces parts for military aircraft.
Former Bakersfield resident Earl Warren takes office as governor of California. Warren goes on to be the first California governor elected to three terms and to be chief justice of the United States.
The Naval Ordnance Test Station, now known as Naval Air Weapons Station, is established at China Lake.
During World War II, German and Japanese prisoners of war are interned at camps near Shafter and Lamont. They work on area farms.
Bakersfield’s first drive-in movie theater, South Chester Drive-In, opens.
The Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base) is established.
Chuck Yeager, flying the Bell X-1 at an altitude of 45,000 feet, becomes the first man to break the sound barrier. He lands at Muroc Army Air Field.
41st U.S. President George H.W. Bush lives in a home at 2101 Monterey St. in Bakersfield with his wife, Barbara, and first child, George W. Bush (43rd U.S. president).
Muroc Army Air Field is renamed Edwards Air Force Base after Capt. Glen W. Edwards.
The Isabella Dam is completed.
Uranium is discovered in 1954 in the Sierra Nevada of Kern County along the Kern River, approximately 30 miles northeast of Bakersfield. Two mines, the Kergon and Miracle, make small shipments in 1954 and 1955.
The Assembly Plant “Unit 80” at Oildale begins manufacturing the Lockheed U-2, a single-engine, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the U.S. Air Force and previously flown by the CIA.
The United States’ first Aerospace Research Pilot School is established at Edwards Air Force Base. The first class has five graduates.
Bakersfield Civic Auditorium is completed.
Major Robert M. White, piloting the North American X-15, sets an altitude record of 314,750 feet (more than 59 miles) at Edwards Air Force Base. This flight qualifies White for astronaut status.
The Delano Grape Strike begins when members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, demanding wages equal to the federal minimum wage, walk off the farms of area table-grape growers. One week after the strike begins, the National Farmworkers Association, led by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Richard Chavez, joins the strike. Eventually the two groups merge, forming the United Farm Workers of America. The strike and boycott last more than five years.
California State College, Bakersfield, is established by the California State Legislature. A groundbreaking ceremony for the new college is held on April 11, 1969. The first classes are held in September 1970.
Red Rock Canyon is established as a state park.
The first flight of the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, a twin-engine tactical fighter, takes place at Edwards Air Force Base. It is among the most successful jet fighters, with more than 100 aerial combat victories and no losses in dogfights.
The NASA flight research facility at Edwards Air Force Base is named after Dr. Hugh L. Dryden. In 2014, it’s renamed Armstrong Flight Research Center after Neil Armstrong.
The maiden flight of the space shuttle Columbia ends with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base after a 54-hour flight.
The space shuttle Discovery lands at Edwards Air Force Base, marking the first successful flight of the space shuttle since the Challenger disaster on Jan. 28, 1986.
The Bakersfield Business Conference brings three former U.S. presidents (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush) to the same podium.
United Farm Workers co-founder Cesar Chavez dies.
The City of Bakersfield opens its arena, Centennial Garden (now Rabobank Arena).
SpaceShipOne, a suborbital air-launched spaceplane, completes the first manned private spaceflight. That same year, it wins the $10 million Ansari X Prize. The spacecraft is developed and flown by Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a joint venture between Paul Allen and Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan's aviation company.
Congressman Bill Thomas, R-Bakersfield, gets $722 million for local transportation projects folded into the massive Transportation Equity Act.
Kristin Perry, who grew up in Bakersfield, becomes a central figure in the legal challenge to Proposition 8, the 2008 constitutional amendment passed by California voters to ban same-sex marriage. Courts later legalize gay marriage in the state and nation.
Historic Padre Hotel reopens in downtown Bakersfield.
Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy is elected House majority leader, making him arguably the most powerful legislator ever from the San Joaquin Valley.