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Take a look through time, from the first settlers to today, at how the Kern River - our county's namesake - has provided Bakersfield and the neighboring areas with life, recreation, and prosperity. 

Sadly, instead of a river, today a dry river bed scars the center of our town. To help us envision a day when a flowing River will again be the centerpiece of our community, we solicited the memories that live with in our community and asked YOU to turn in pictures and stories of a time when the Kern River flowed through lower Bakersfield. 

We hope that these photos and stories serve as a reminder of how a flowing Kern River through Bakersfield could transform our city and quality of life.

Beach Park 1946

Beach Park 1946

Mill Creek 1938

Mill Creek 1938

Beach Park 1946

Beach Park 1946

Group at the Kern River 1890s

Group at the Kern River 1890s

Woman lounging on river

Woman lounging on river

Playing at Hart Park

Playing at Hart Park

Fishing on boat in Kern River

Fishing on boat in Kern River

Kern River bridge in color

Kern River bridge in color

Kern River Canyon May 18, 1919

Kern River Canyon May 18, 1919

Kern River water wheel

Kern River water wheel

Picnic on Kern River 1890

Picnic on Kern River 1890

Looking north towards oilfields 1915

Looking north towards oilfields 1915

Kern River, Bluffs, and Oil Field

Kern River, Bluffs, and Oil Field

Bridge over Kern River 1918

Bridge over Kern River 1918

Kern River surrounded by a busy park

Kern River surrounded by a busy park

Kern River bridge aerial 1939

Kern River bridge aerial 1939

Bridge near Western Water Works1929

Bridge near Western Water Works1929

Picnic at the Kern River 1890s

Picnic at the Kern River 1890s

Kern River Canyon 1890s

Kern River Canyon 1890s

West Lake of Hart Park 1973

West Lake of Hart Park 1973

On their way to the river 1890s

On their way to the river 1890s

First Kern River Instagram Pic

First Kern River Instagram Pic

Kern River Golf Course

Kern River Golf Course

Kern River bordered by trees

Kern River bordered by trees

Man diving into lake, Hart Park

Man diving into lake, Hart Park

Marie D. Kern River Wind Surfing
Marie D. Kern River Wind Surfing

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Marie D. Kern River Wind Surfing
Marie D. Kern River Wind Surfing

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Marie D. Kern River Wind Surfing
Marie D. Kern River Wind Surfing

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Marie D. Kern River Wind Surfing
Marie D. Kern River Wind Surfing

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"Went out in a kayak to enjoy the few short weeks of flowing river in 2020. My coworker even went kite surfing on the river."
                                                                 
                                                              - Marie D.

Kayaking and Kite Surfing, Truxton Bridge to River Walk Park 

"It was a wonderful and fun day with my children and nephews. I love this memory of being able to spend time by the water at Beach Park."
                                                                 - Alta C.

Skating the Kern River Parkway trail 1990s

Alta C. Skating KRPW 1990s
Alta C. Skating KRPW 1990s

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Alta C. Skating KRPW 1990s
Alta C. Skating KRPW 1990s

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Alta C. Skating KRPW 1990s
Alta C. Skating KRPW 1990s

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Alta C. Skating KRPW 1990s
Alta C. Skating KRPW 1990s

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Patricia T. Beach Park 1950s
Patricia T. Beach Park 1950s

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Patricia T. Beach Park 1950s
Patricia T. Beach Park 1950s

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Patricia T. Beach Park 1950s
Patricia T. Beach Park 1950s

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"Cooling off in the Kern River at Beach Park..."
                                                                 
                                                     - Patricia T.

Beach Park, Bakersfield late 1950s.

"My husband posing with a crawdad he found in the river just west of Allen Road. It's incredible how much more life there is along the river with just a few inches of water!"
                                                                 - Lia M.

Dogs and Crawdad on Allen Rd. Bridge, Kern River 2017

Lia M_Dogs_KR Bridge 2017
Lia M_Dogs_KR Bridge 2017

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Lia M_Dogs_KR Bridge 2017
Lia M_Dogs_KR Bridge 2017

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Lia M_Dogs_KR Bridge 2017
Lia M_Dogs_KR Bridge 2017

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Lia M_Dogs_KR Bridge 2017
Lia M_Dogs_KR Bridge 2017

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Matthew S. Kayaking On Kern River
Matthew S. Kayaking On Kern River

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Matthew S. Kayaking On Kern River
Matthew S. Kayaking On Kern River

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Matthew S. Kayaking On Kern River
Matthew S. Kayaking On Kern River

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Matthew S. Kayaking On Kern River
Matthew S. Kayaking On Kern River

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"...The last year we saw the Kern flow so nicely through town...We floated under the 99, Mohawk, Coffee, and Callaway.  It was great fun and cool to see familiar landmarks from this perspective.  We drifted into the sunset and took-out at Riverwalk Park."
                                                               
                                                                  - Matthew S.

Kayaking through Bakersfield on Kern River, 2019

Tracy G.

North side of Kern River, south of River Walk Park. Hiking near the river was a favorite hobby with her dog.

Marissa P. Hart Park 2021

Family moved to wife's hometown and in 2021 they got to experience the Kern River for the first trime at Hart Park.

Majorie B Tubing On Kern

Memories about growing up in Bakersfield abound in Ann Williams’ “Midgebuzzings,” a book of essays adapted from her bi-monthly columns in the Kern-Kaweah Chapter, Sierra Club newsletter. One of her most memorable recollections is about inner tubing in the Kern in a patch between Ming Lake and Hart Park. “When, several years ago, my students proposed a float trip down a quiet stretch of the Kern River, I had mixed feelings.

Marci C. On Kern

Attached are two pictures taken 15 to 20 years ago. The one with the hyacinths is between Manor and Chester looking west while I think the one with me on my horse was take near Coffee Road. Maybe someone will recognize the background for a more specific location. The hyacinths are an invasive species but they were beautiful when in bloom. The taken photo near Coffee Road was taken in the middle of a ride starting at Manor Street to Coffee Road and back, about 15 miles round trip.

Marci C. On Kern

Attached are two pictures taken 15 to 20 years ago. The one with the hyacinths is between Manor and Chester looking west while I think the one with me on my horse was take near Coffee Road. Maybe someone will recognize the background for a more specific location. The hyacinths are an invasive species but they were beautiful when in bloom. The taken photo near Coffee Road was taken in the middle of a ride starting at Manor Street to Coffee Road and back, about 15 miles round trip.

Linda. G

Linda enjoying a sunset kayak on the Kern.

Kalen S. KR Oct 2013

The pictures were in October of 2013 and none of anyone in the river I was just on a day visit with my dog Koosh.

Kalen S. KR Oct 2013

The pictures were in October of 2013 and none of anyone in the river I was just on a day visit with my dog Koosh.

Kalen S. KR Oct 2013

The pictures were in October of 2013 and none of anyone in the river I was just on a day visit with my dog Koosh.

Kalen S. KR Oct 2013

The pictures were in October of 2013 and none of anyone in the river I was just on a day visit with my dog Koosh.

Kalen S. KR Oct 2013

The pictures were in October of 2013 and none of anyone in the river I was just on a day visit with my dog Koosh.

Kalen S. KR Oct 2013

The pictures were in October of 2013 and none of anyone in the river I was just on a day visit with my dog Koosh.

Erika F. KR

The Kern river has always been a place for my best friend and I to get re-grounded. A place where we can play in the water as if we were children. Despite where life takes us as adults, we always return here to remind ourselves of the simple pleasures in life.

Harry S. Paddle Board On KR 2010

Harry paddle boarding at beach park around 2010.

Eddy L. Kern River
Eddy L. Kern River
Eddy L. Kern River
Eddy L. Kern River
Eddy L. Kern River
Eddy L. Kern River
Eddy L. Kern River
Eddy L. Kern River
Eddy L. Kern River
Eddy L. Kern River
Douglas D. Beach Park 1958

Found this in the Bakersfield Californian for July 12, 1958 It’s notable that the river was full in mid-July and that the paper reports “Just in the past year, many facilities have been built along the Kern River for the enjoyment of both children and adults.” Clearly, the Kern River was a dependable recreational resource that the city and county were investing in on behalf of their residents.

Brij B. Kern River 2017
Brij B. Kern River 2017
Heather W. KR 2019

I'm not sure because I don't remember which years we had water over here!!! These are from the Stockdale/Allen Rd area. We love taking evening picnics over there when there's water. Although, I think my son is swinging in one with no water.

Heather W. KR 2019

I'm not sure because I don't remember which years we had water over here!!! These are from the Stockdale/Allen Rd area. We love taking evening picnics over there when there's water. Although, I think my son is swinging in one with no water.

Heather W. KR 2019

I'm not sure because I don't remember which years we had water over here!!! These are from the Stockdale/Allen Rd area. We love taking evening picnics over there when there's water. Although, I think my son is swinging in one with no water.

Heather W. KR 2019

I'm not sure because I don't remember which years we had water over here!!! These are from the Stockdale/Allen Rd area. We love taking evening picnics over there when there's water. Although, I think my son is swinging in one with no water.

Heather W. KR 2019

I'm not sure because I don't remember which years we had water over here!!! These are from the Stockdale/Allen Rd area. We love taking evening picnics over there when there's water. Although, I think my son is swinging in one with no water.

Heather W. KR 2019

I'm not sure because I don't remember which years we had water over here!!! These are from the Stockdale/Allen Rd area. We love taking evening picnics over there when there's water. Although, I think my son is swinging in one with no water.

Wendi A. KR Group

In 2011 about 35 of us did a 5 hour float from Beach Park to Riverwalk Park. It was a floating party! This photo was just east of Coffee Road.

Sierra V. KR

Photos from January of 2020. It was my third day of living in Bakersfield. My partner and I went for this walk at the river park after a long day of unpacking. It was a crisp wintry evening with a pink sunset glow. We enjoyed the peaceful reflection of trees on the river, and spotted a night heron and an egret. We stood and stared at the river, feeling both nervous and excited to start our lives here.

Sierra V. KR

Photos from January of 2020. It was my third day of living in Bakersfield. My partner and I went for this walk at the river park after a long day of unpacking. It was a crisp wintry evening with a pink sunset glow. We enjoyed the peaceful reflection of trees on the river, and spotted a night heron and an egret. We stood and stared at the river, feeling both nervous and excited to start our lives here.

Sierra V. KR

Photos from January of 2020. It was my third day of living in Bakersfield. My partner and I went for this walk at the river park after a long day of unpacking. It was a crisp wintry evening with a pink sunset glow. We enjoyed the peaceful reflection of trees on the river, and spotted a night heron and an egret. We stood and stared at the river, feeling both nervous and excited to start our lives here.

Sierra V. KR

Photos from January of 2020. It was my third day of living in Bakersfield. My partner and I went for this walk at the river park after a long day of unpacking. It was a crisp wintry evening with a pink sunset glow. We enjoyed the peaceful reflection of trees on the river, and spotted a night heron and an egret. We stood and stared at the river, feeling both nervous and excited to start our lives here.

Jillian P. Kern River

It was taken just west of where Allen Road crosses the river. My brother and I took my toddler to experience the Kern for the first time!

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