BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — With the ongoing drought, local lakes and rivers are facing the impacts of wildlife dying… and communities reemerging?
Residents of the Kern County community of Kernville may have noticed a reemerging city as the drought soaks up Lake Isabella.
According to Dianna Anderson, a Kern River Museum curator, pig styes and cedars of Murphy Ranch of Old Kernville are starting to reemerge from the lake in the Southern Sierra Nevada.
Old Kernville is a long-gone town that has survived massacres, gold rushes and floods, according to Sierra Nevada Geotourism. The once-thriving community originally named Whiskey Flat, or “Demon Rum” by the ladies of the town, now sits at the bottom of the man-made Lake Isabella reservoir. The town was flooded when the reservoir was built in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The community first started to grow in the 1860s when miners followed whiskey dealer Adam Hamilton from the old mining town of Quartzburg down to the flat, according to Anderson. Once Whiskey Flat started becoming a family town, it was renamed Kernville after artist Edward M. Kern, who mapped the area.
One piece of history that has not yet reemerged from the lake dates back to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal: the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). According to Anderson, Old Kernville used to have a CCC camp structure.
The CCC is considered “one of the most successful of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs.” The corps employed young men during the Great Depression who planted trees, constructed trails and established more than 700 state parks, according to an article on the History website.
But as Bakersfield grew, the community wanted to stop flooding at the bottom of the valley, so they built a dam, Anderson said.
This put the buildings and homes of a once thriving community under water – but they may not be submerged for much longer.