I visited the Kern Valley Museum in Kernville, CA in the late spring of 2015. I was impressed!
Other small town history museums I’ve visited (I’m looking at you, Truth or Consequences, NM and Quartzsite, AZ) have been jumbled, hodge- podge messes, filled with any (literally) old thing with little-to-no explanation of historical context. The museum in T or C is huge and rambling, with so much (too much) to see and difficult (both physically and mentally) to read explanation cards. Quartzsite’s museum is smaller and more cluttered with even less explanation of why objects are on display.
The Kern Valley Museum has none of those problems. Housed in a former doctor’s office, the museum staff has arranged similar items in displays in the former exam rooms. Visitors can spend time in one room with photos and artifacts from the various movies filmed in the region, while in other areas folks can learn about local money-making endeavors such as mining and ranching. The museum is very clean, and exhibits are well-lit, with brief and easy to read explanatory notes.
In the museum’s backyard, larger items are on display.
One cool item in the back area is a reconstructed covered wagon originally from pioneer days. It was brought from Missouri, over the Oregon Trail, in 1850. Between 1998 and 2000, it was restored from a pile of lumber, a box of hardware, and some wheel hubs.
A horse-drawn carriage is also on display.
There is gold mining equipment in the back area as well.
A small room is set up to look like a blacksmith’s shop. Since my great-grandfather was a blacksmith, I was interested in the equipment on display.
There’s a small cabin behind the museum too. If I remember correctly, the cabin was moved from its original location to the museum in Kernville. I don’t recall if the furnishing were pieces originally from the cabin or historically accurate items that came from elsewhere. The museum’s website calls it “a restored and furnished 110 year old cabin…”
I enjoyed exploring the Kern Valley Museum and recommend it as an educational stopping point for any visitors to Kernville.
If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read about my visit to the nearby Old Kernville Cemetery.
All photos in this post were taken by me.