Bakersfield is located at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, approximately equidistant between Fresno to the North (110 miles) and Los Angeles to the South (110 miles). A thriving local economy of this, the 11th largest city in California, is based on agriculture, petroleum extraction and refining, and manufacturing.
Archaeological evidence indicates that Yokuts Indians were present in the area some eight thousand years ago. Their presence was not disturbed too much even when the Spanish Missionaries first explored the area in 1776. Following the discovery of gold in California in 1848 the influx of prospectors and settlers led to the indigenous Indian population being actively forced from the area.
In 1851 gold was discovered along the Kern River, followed by the discovery of oil in the valley in 1865. The California Gold Rush also brought Colonel Thomas Baker to the area and he settled on the banks of the Kern River in 1863, the area’s name being changed to Baker’s Field shortly thereafter.
First gold then the oil industry drew migrants from Texas, Louisianna, Oklahoma and Southern California. As the population grew, Bakersfield was incorporated as a city in 1873 and became the Kern County seat a year later.
Today, Kern County is the most oil productive county in America, with approximately 10% of the nation’s domestic production. Kern County is a part of the highly productive San Joaquin Valley, and ranks in the top five for most productive agricultural counties in the nation. Major crops for Kern County include: grapes, citrus, almonds, carrots, alfalfa, cotton, and roses. The city serves as the home for both corporate and regional headquarters for companies engaged in these industries.
Bakersfield also has a growing manufacturing and distribution sector. Several companies have moved to Bakersfield because of inexpensive land and its access to the rest of America as well as international ports in both Los Angeles and Oakland. Other companies have opened regional offices and non oil/agricultural businesses because of Bakersfield’s and Kern County’s business friendly policies, such as no local utility or inventory taxes. Products manufactured in the city include: central vacuums, highway paint, and stock racing cars. Bakersfield is also home to one of the world’s largest Ice Cream plants owned by Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Holdings, Inc. (who manufacture Dreyer’s, Edy’s, Haagen-Dazs, Nestle and Skinny Cow ice cream products and frozen snacks)
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