Growth in East Kern – in 1956
I found a clipping from the newspaper that my mother wrote and the headline read, “Prediction of New Frontier on Desert Coming True in East Kern.”
Her lead said that the prediction “made several years ago” was coming true and the area was slowly but surely growing. (No idea who made the prediction...my first thought would be a realtor, but who knows?)
Marion Deaver attributed the growth to both men and women who worked tirelessly in these small East Kern communities and chambers of commerce to promote the area and encourage residents and businesses to locate there.
“They have seen industries come into the area, have watched desperately needed housing developments being built, new stores built, and have read of Kern County Planning Commissions approvals for even more growth,” she noted.
More than 100 houses were built in Rosamond and four new commercial buildings were constructed. An adjacent article noted that “all the trailer parks were full to capacity.”
In 1956 in Mojave bringing a county airport to the area was a priority, as was addressing parking problems in the community. After the Marine Base pulled out and left for Yuma, Ariz. in the late ‘50s, businessmen and chamber officials made several trips to Washington D.C. and worked with Kern County Supervisors to get the airport made into a county airport. It became County Airport No.7.
Again with much blood sweat and tears by local residents to make it happen, voters in California City and Mojave formed the Mojave Airport District, later known as the East Kern Airport District. Old barracks were torn down, new businesses arrived, and building new hangars and aviation related businesses. It is now the home of Spaceship II and is known as the Mojave Spaceport.
A new Kern County Fire Station was built on Highway 58 East. The old one had occupied space in the old Forestry Building on Main Street. The building was renovated to make more room for the Sheriff’s Office and Municipal Court. That building was torn down later and on it site was a KFC restaurant, which is now closed.
(Time marches on.)
A new jail was built behind the Forestry Building and included cells for men, women, and one for juveniles. That building still stands and was used as a storage facility for KFC.
Also in the works, at a cost of $30,000, was a Recreation Building located adjacent to Mojave Park. I remember going to Girl Scout meetings there and later when I was grown, taking my pre-schoolers there for activities. I wonder what part of that building could be constructed now for $30,000?
White’s Café, owned by Roger White and his mother Nan Mobley, saw a new $200,000 café built in the fall of that year, complete with a banquet room. As one entered the restaurant there to greet him/her was a taxidermy Mountain Lion, ready to strike.
In high school we had various nicknames for that lion as we watched it grow old and tired looking. Many Mojave events were held in the banquet room, the largest in town, from weddings to large community events. The café eventually went through several other owners and was torn down to accommodate the Shell gas station.
Other new business ventures that year including a new 46-room hotel, three new gas stations (Mojave was a crossroads for the old Highways 6 and 466 ) a new variety and hardware store, and a drive-in delicatessen (No idea about that one).
The school district built a new four room Kindergarten and a shop building. The churches grew – making additions – including the Assembly of God, Baptist, and Community Congregational Churches.
The California Portland Cement Company was in the midst of an expansion that would double the plant’s output of cement. It was expected to be completed in the summer of 1957.
East Kern has seen its booms and busts through the years, with some of those being related to growth – or lack of – in the Aerospace industry.However East Kern still has much to offer in other areas and its future remains strong.