With less than a week until school starts, the pressure is on to make the most of those last few days of summer. A long trip is probably out of the question, but a short drive to Lake Isabella for a special event could be just the thing to wrap up the season.
The Bureau of Land Management's Bakersfield Field Office is holding a family day at the Walker Cabin in the Keysville Special Recreation Management Area on Saturday morning. The event should be both fun and educational, organizers said.
The day will include an interpretive ranger talk, gold panning and demonstrations on the Tubatulabal Native American culture, where families can learn about their language, beading and basketry, as well as native plants. Joining the local BLM office will be the Nuui Cunni Native American Inter-Tribal Cultural Center.
"It's a place for kids and families alike to get knowledge on the Keysville area," said Emma Lane, outdoor recreation planner intern. "People know Keysville exists but they don't know the extent of the history in the area."
The Walker Cabin was built during the Gold Rush, by miners in 1863.
"Walker Cabin has a rich history, dating well over 100 years old," said Gabe Garcia, local BLM field manager. "It had several residents over the years, but the Walkers were a local family who lived there."
But the cabin wasn't exactly the home of a happy family: The sons of William and Mary Walker came to be known as the "Shooting Walkers," with Newt Walker known as a particularly fast draw. The men often got in trouble with the law and were part of a decades-long feud with other families in the area. In 1924, Tom Walker allegedly killed Newt and two other men in a shoot-out at the cabin before killing himself. Now, the cabin has a reputation for being haunted.
Up until about seven or eight years ago, the cabin was still inhabited, Garcia said. After that point, it came into the local BLM office's hands.
"We're working on preserving the site for historic value and bringing things back to where they were 100 years ago," Garcia said.
The office has already replaced the porch and roof and demolished an addition that was built more recently. There's still more work to be done on the inside, but Garcia said eventually the cabin itself will be open for visitors. For now, though, it's just to be admired from the outside.
Garcia said they aren't expecting a huge group (likely around 25 to 75 people) but they can accommodate one if more people show up.
"We're trying to do more outreach on what we do, not just at Walker Cabin but also the recreational opportunities in Keysville," Garcia said. "We thought it would be a good opportunity to give the public an educational day on the uses and activities they can enjoy right in their own backyard."
This is the first event of its kind at the Walker Cabin, Garcia said, though the local BLM office has organized hikes in the area. He said the local BLM office staff wants to do events like the family day on a more regular basis.
"It's an opportunity for kids to learn about local history," Lane said, "and get them outside and enjoying the public lands that are around them."