Lake Isabella, California

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Lake Isabella (formerly, Isabella and Kernvale)[1] is a census-designated place (CDP) in the southern Sierra Nevada s, in Kern County, California, United States, located near Lake Isabella. Lake Isabella is located 35 miles (56 km) east-northeast of Bakersfield,[2] at an elevation of 2513 feet (766 m).[1] The population was 3,315 at the 2000 census.



Lake Isabella is located at 35°37′05″N 118°28′23″W / 35.61806°N 118.47306°W / 35.61806; -118.47306.[1]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 22.1 square miles (57.2 km²), all of it land.

Lake Isabella is at the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Kern River. These rivers are 'wild', in that they are not controlled by any dam upstream. Upstream on the North Fork white water enthusiasts play in the spring and early summer. The famous Golden Trout originate in these rivers in the high country to the north.


When the Europeans first explored this area they found it populated mostly by a couple of Indian tribes, the Tubatulabals and by a few Paiute-Shoshone. The Tubatulabals were a happy, friendly people. The name, "Tubatulabal" means "those who go out and gather Pinyon nuts". They were referred to by other Indians as the 'happy talkers' because their language was lilting and full of laughter. The Paiutes were from the deserts to the north east across the Sierras. The two tribes were fairly closely related by marriage ties. 'Paiute' is taken from an Indian word meaning 'fly eaters'. An important part of the Paiute diet was a flour made from dried ground up brine-fly larva. These larva swarm thickly in the salt lakes of the desert basins.

The Tubatulabals coexisted peacefully with the white settlers for the most part. In 1863 there was a massacre of the Tubatulabals and some Paiutes by the U.S. Cavalry. A casual researcher will find differing accounts of this massacre. One account is found in the Handbook of North Americans - California Volume 8, 1978. Another is in one of local historian Bob Powers earlier books on Kern Valley. The accounts differ considerably.

The area east of the lake, along the South Fork, was settled first by cattle ranchers in the early 1850s. As the ranching operations grew and prospered, they began to raise hay in the lower, temperate valley to feed the cattle in the winter. From spring till fall the cowboys would tend the cattle up in the high country of the Sierras. In this dry mountain area there are many lush jewels of mountain meadows, of heart-tugging beauty in every direction from Lake Isabella. The Kern Plateau is directly NE of Lake Isabella and varies from 7,000 feet (2,100 m) to 10,000 feet (3,000 m) elevation. It has tall timber, many streams and much vegatation useful for cattle graze. The cattlemen ran cattle in the desert areas beyond Walkers Pass also. Having grown up in the area, it was not unusual to see the school bus slow to a walk through a crowded herd of cattle being driven down the highway. A student might open the bus window and shout, "Hi Mom!" or "Hi Dad!" to the cowperson driving the cattle.

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