Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Kern County, California
Kern County is a county located in the southern Central Valley of California. It extends east beyond the southern slope of the Eastern Sierra Nevada range, and includes parts of the Western Indian Wells Valley, and Northern Antelope Valley, north of Los Angeles County. As of the 2000 census, its population is 661,645. Its county seat is Bakersfield.
The county has a large agricultural base and is a significant producer of energy. As of 2004, Kern remains California's top oil-producing county, with over 85% of the state's 43,000 oil wells. The county accounts for one-tenth of overall U.S. oil production. Kern is also noted for its mineral wealth, including gold and kernite.
Edwards Air Force Base and China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station are located in Kern County.
The Kern County area was first claimed by the Spanish in 1769. In 1772, Commander Don Pedro Fages became the first European to enter the area; the expedition entered via the Grapevine Canyon (later the site of the Ridge Route and now Interstate 5). Walker Pass was discovered in 1834 and is an important pass across the Sierra Nevada. It is now a National Historic Landmark. In 1848, the Kern area was ceded to the United States as part of the transfer of California, Nevada, and Utah and other lands under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
Tensions between Native Americans and encroaching settlers turned deadly on several occasions. The ghost town of Keyesville is the location where 5 Indians were killed in cold blood in 1856, and another 35 in were killed by soldiers in the 1863 Keyesville Massacre.
Kern County was formed in 1866 from parts of Los Angeles and Tulare Counties. The county derives its name from the Kern River which was named for Edward Kern , topographer for General John C. Fremont's 1845 expedition, which crossed Walker Pass.
Elk Hills, one of the largest oil fields in Kern County, was involved in the affair remembered as the Teapot Dome scandal, the most famous example of corruption of U.S. President Warren G. Harding's administration. In 1923, it was revealed that Harding's Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, transferred portions of the naval petroleum reserves into private hands without competitive bidding, and in the case of Elk Hills, in exchange for personal 'loans.' The illicit deals involved the reserves at Elk Hills in Kern County and at Teapot Dome in Wyoming.
As home to Edwards Air Force Base, Kern County has been the site of many aeronautic milestones, including the first supersonic flight and the first landing of the Space Shuttle. Kern County is also the home of the first inland spaceport in the United States, the Mojave Spaceport.
Between 1983 and 1986, several ritual sex ring child abuse cases allegedly occurred in Kern County. These resulted in numerous long prison sentences, all of which were overturned, some only decades later. The Kern County cases marked the beginning of a series of similar cases all over North America and beyond.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 661,645 people, 208,652 households, and 156,489 families residing in the county. The population density is 31/km² (81/mi²). There are 231,564 housing units at an average density of 11/km² (28/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 61.60% White, 6.02% Black or African American, 3.37% Asian, 1.51% Native American, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 23.22% from other races, and 4.14% from two or more races. 38.39% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 208,652 households out of which 42.20% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.60% are married couples living together, 14.50% have a female householder with no husband present, and 25.00% are non-families. 20.30% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.80% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.03 and the average family size is 3.50.
In the county the population is spread out with 31.90% under the age of 18, 10.20% from 18 to 24, 29.80% from 25 to 44, 18.70% from 45 to 64, and 9.40% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 105.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 105.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $35,446, and the median income for a family is $39,403. Males have a median income of $38,097 versus $25,876 for females. The per capita income for the county is $15,760. 20.80% of the population and 16.80% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 27.80% of those under the age of 18 and 10.50% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
- Bakersfield, the major city & home of CSU - Bakersfield
- California City
Towns and CDPs
The following are towns or census-designated places within Kern County:
- County website
- Kern government web portal
- Kern County Farm Bureau
- Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Independent oil men a fading breed
- Keysville Massacre, April 19, 1863 - original report from officer in charge.
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