Keene, California

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Keene (formerly, Wells)[2] is a census-designated place (CDP) in Kern County, California in the foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains at the southern extreme of the San Joaquin Valley. Keene is located 8.5 miles (14 km) northwest of Tehachapi,[2] at an elevation of 2602 feet (793 m).[1] The population was 339 at the 2000 census.

The headquarters of the United Farm Workers (UFW), a national farmworkers organization organized and led by Cesar Chavez, is located in Keene.



Keene is located at 35°13′25″N 118°33′44″W / 35.22361°N 118.56222°W / 35.22361; -118.56222.[1]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 9.7 square miles (25.2 km²), all of it land.


The Keene post office opened in 1879, closed in 1881, and re-opened in 1885.[2] Keene was founded in 1876 with the name Wells as a railroad town.[2] The name Wells honored Madison P. Wells, local rancher.[2] The town was renamed Keene in honor of James P. Keene, a financier.[2]

César Chávez

The UFW moved its national headquarters to Keene from Delano, California. César Chávez spent his last days in Keene. The walls of his United Farm Workers office in Keene were lined with hundreds of books ranging in subject from philosophy, economics, cooperatives, and unions, to biographies of Gandhi and the Kennedys. He is buried at 29700 Woodford Tehachapi Rd, Keene, CA 93531, on the campus of the UFW headquarters.[3]

The National Chavez Center was opened on the UFW campus in 2004 by the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation. It currently consists of a visitor center, memorial garden and the grave site of civil rights leader. When it is fully completed, the 187-acre (0.76 km2) site will include a museum and conference center to explore and share Chávez's work.[3]

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