Old Kernville Cemetery — noonish, early fall

The rabbitbrush is in full bloom throughout the Kern River Valley, and those yellow puffs (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus) behave like mini terrestrial suns, lighting the KRV from the ground, while the sun plays its overhead gig. The valley becomes bright and colorful, and with fewer tourists this time of year, the bees in the rabbitbrush, the ravens in the trees, and the river seem to make more noise. I hanker for an hour or two of this mellow little show. And with the approach of Halloween, formerly known as a holy day to honor the saints and pray for the recently departed, it seems like a good day to visit the Old Kernville Cemetery.

“Dedicated to the memory of Quartzburg and Kernville pioneers who lie here. Kern County is their monument.” So reads a plaque at the gate to the Old Kernville Cemetery. A plaque on the other side of the gate marks the monument to Old Kernville, relocated in 1953, when Isabella’s newly dammed waters flooded the site.

I open the gate and herd my two little dogs inside with me. Immediately, Keji, the mostly-corgi, honors a recently departed seagull by rolling in its headless remains. I leash him and bring him to a bench next to the 1997 gravestone of Dorothy Mae Feldmann.

View from the bench: Kern River, middle ground, and Neanderthal Wall in the back left corner.

Ninja and I wander the small graveyard.

We confirm what we already knew. Most of those buried here passed before 1953. Many passed well before 1953. But there are some newer graves, even some brand-new ones.

I sit for an hour or so on the bench overlooking the river, the sound of sporadic traffic behind me on Burlando Road, the sound of the river in front of me. A steady breeze circulates the scent of pine, creosote bush, cyprus. As the hour passes, tree shadows migrate across the gravestones, lighting one marker, shading another. The colored glass shards in a nearby pair of cement grave markers sparkle like crown jewels.


One thought on “Old Kernville Cemetery — noonish, early fall

  1. Kyle Smith – Master of Brewing Kyle is a Kernville native and the man behind the brew at KRBC. As a home brewer since 1996, and a beer fan long before that, Kyle has developed his own style that is reflected in the tasty beer that he brews. Curious about the brewing process? Ask and he may be happy to give you a tour (as long as he’s not too busy creating magic, cleaning vats, working the bar or maintaining accounts). Now this is a man that loves his work and there is no doubt about that after one sip of KRBC’s products. Rebecca Giddens If you “Google” Rebecca, you will find a long list of kayaking achievements: 2004 Olympic Silver Medallist, 2002 World Champion, many time National Champion and U.S. Team Member. Spend some time with Rebecca and you’ll find that she just wants to hang out in Kernville and go on adventures with her friends. One of the hardest workers anywhere, you may find her in the kitchen, behind the bar, or hauling a 100 lb bag of barley in the brewing area. Stop by and chat with her sometime, just don’t give her too much grief since she already has to put up with the rest of the KRBC crew. Eric Giddens, Ph.D. Eric has an undergraduate degree in environmental biology from Georgia Tech and a Ph. D. in Oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When he is not fulfilling his duties as President of KRBC, such as mopping the floor and schlepping kegs, you can most likely find him on the river. Eric has been paddling for as long as he can remember, and has found the perfect playground in the high Sierra Mountains. He has traded in his Olympic training regime for class V rapids and beer at the take-out. On days where the rivers are too low, keep an eye out for him on the trails; he’s the one trying to hurry up the Basset hounds so that he won’t be late for work.

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