Perhaps the greatest education one can receive in Kern’s rich history in one place is on 16 acres at the Kern County Museum and its Pioneer Village on Chester Avenue. Founded in 1941, it opened in the Kern County Chamber of Commerce building in 1945. The 1868 Barnes family log house was added to the then-county fairgrounds property adjacent to the chamber building, and by the early 1950s, the museum morphed into an educational facility and community cultural center, luring tourists from near and far.

Every morning, museum executive director Mike McCoy strolls the grounds and marvels at its growth. “When I arrived in 2017, I was offended by the condition of some of the buildings,” McCoy said. “There were broken windows and structures in varying states of disrepair.” The Kern County Museum Foundation, which oversees the museum and grounds, had cycled through five directors in four years before McCoy’s arrival.

Lisa Kimble is an Emmy Award-winning former broadcast journalist who began her career in radio. The opinions expressed here are her own.