The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Susan Wiggins
Tehachapi City Mayor 

Historical Society History

A Page of History

 

March 30, 2019

Susan Wiggins

Found an article by my mother Marion Deaver that she wrote about how the Kern-Antelope Historical Society was created.

The article was taken from a letter written from Glen Settle to the Conference of California Historical Societies in June, 1961. Settle was the current president of the historical society located in Southeastern Kern County.

Settle was responding to a letter written to him to find out more about the newly created group. The group held its first meeting in May 1959 and was formally organized in December 1959. The group incorporated in December 1960.

The historical society met the second Tuesday of each month at 8 p.m. at the Miner's Hall in Tropico Gold Mine Gold Camp. Field trips were held the next Saturday.

In 1961 the group had a membership of about 100 members, with 40-50 members attending meetings each month. I was 9 when the group was formed and was a charter member, along with my parents and my brother Bill Deaver.

I went on almost every field trip with my parents (cheaper than a babysitter) and really enjoyed learning about the area's history.

The annual fundraiser for the group was a community calendar, with photos of historical buildings around the area. Professor Warren Nunn from Antelope Valley College prepared the monthly bulletin. Area oldtimers were featured in the bulletin each month, telling their stories of the early Antelope Valley-East Kern area.

The stories were re-written by my mom and published in the Bakersfield Californian. Settle noted that my parents Paul and Marion Deaver went on all of the field trips (with me) and wrote and photographed the trips to preserve area history. Those articles were also printed in the Californian.

"My wife Dorene and I have started a museum near Rosamond at the Gold camp at the base of Tropico Mine," Settle explained. He added that the group members helped in acquiring old photos, relics and historical buildings that otherwise would have been destroyed. Fourteen buildings had been moved into the Gold Camp and the historical group worked to furnish them with period relics to make them look like they did in the last century.

The group's field trips to Native American pictographs in the area led to Charles LaMonk, a local painter, being able to document the various sites through his medium. One of his paintings graced a wall at the gold camp museum.

The group also worked with the state organization to make some local sites eligible for historical markings.

In later years, the Gold Camp was the site of the yearly World Championship Gold Panning Contest and then the World Championship Chili Cook-off. (15-20,000 people attending all day in the sun and drinking beer. Exciting times!)

The historical society still meets in Rosamond, I believe. A current member could contact me and maybe I would attend a future meeting.

Tropico Gold Mine and Camp remains closed and is off limits. Another article I found explained that the camp closed after rising insurance requirements made it too expensive to operate.

The old buildings remain, silent under the baking sun, slowly returning to the earth from which they came. It makes me sad when I think of all the fun times that occurred there when I was growing up.

 
 

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