NAME: Keyesville
CLIMATE: Cool winter, warm summer, 4 seasons.
COMMENTS: Keysville is a landmark in the kernvalley .
REMAINS: A few houses and buildings.

Keysville (or Keyesville) is located 2.0 miles up Keyesville Road from its junction with California Highway 155 at Lake Isabella dam.

A mine was located c.1854 by Captain Richard Keyes, which soon lead to Keysville, the first American community in what eventually became Kern County. A camp formed in random fashion over the hillsides, trails served as streets. The area was so remote and steep, that supplies coming in from the nearest settlement of Visalia (110 miles northwest) had trouble because the terrain was so steep and rugged teams had to be doubled, logs had to be drug behind the wagons to keep control on the way down.

In 1856 an Indian war ensued when San Joaquin tribes went on the warpath, and Keysville became the center of Indian attention due to the fact that miners killed 5 Indians in cold blood nearby. A "fort" was hastily dug on a knoll and riders dispatched to Fort Tejon and Los Angeles (140 miles south) for reinforcements. Later, when soldiers arrived, they found no Indians in the area and occupied Keysville for a while afterward.

Another incident of Indian murder was in 1863 when Indian uprisings in Owens Valley, over the Sierra Nevada Range northeastward. Men were dispatched to help with squelching that problem when they encountered a group of peaceful Indians, who had refused to participate in the Owens Valley uprisings, living seven miles from town. They coldly murdered the group and proclaimed "not a soldier injured."

Houses and buildings in Keysville today are from recent vintage. The "fort" that miners used in their defense can be seen still and the Keys Mine is located in a gulch nearby.

David A. Wright
Great Basin Research

Northeast of Bakersfield is Keysville, a town named after a Captain Richard Keys early in 1854. Near Keys mine grew a rustic frontier town that was the first American community in what is now Kern County. Without formal streets, its rough wooden stores were scattered at random over the hillslope while miner's cabins dotted the mountainside above. This was one of most remote settlements in California, 110 miles to the nearest town of Visalia in one direction, 140 miles to Los Angeles in another. Reached by a dirt road, this pioneer mining camp is marked only by a few houses of comparatively recent vintage. In a gulch to the north of town is the entrance to the Keys Mine, discovered in 1854. Submitted by Henry Chenoweth.