Flooded California Ghost Town Rises From Dry Lake Amid Drought

By Logan DeLoye

September 14, 2022

Bodie the ghost town in California
Photo: Getty Images

Old Kernville was a small Western town built at the tail end of the Gold Rush in 1860, but is known today as being the backdrop of multiple classic Western films and most recently, a lake. According to UPI, the town that was once entirely buried under Lake Isabella near modern-day Bakersfield, has just resurfaced due to a drought.

Sierra Nevada Geotourism noted that the town, initially referred to as Whiskey Flat, used to be the site of explorations, massacres, and to its misfortune, devastating flood waters. Over the years, the town that was once a booming tourist destination simply ceased to exist. Resident of New Kernville and retired video producer Chuck Barbee told SFGATE that the foundations of some of the original buildings remain intact.

He explained that before the town was covered by the lake, locals would go to the saloons off of "Movie Street" to drink with movie stars that were in town to film. Before that, the area belonged to Native American tribes until a California Volunteer Calvary of 70 soldiers ambushed the tribes and settled into the town.

“It’s fun to go out there,” Barbee told SFGATE. “I don’t think you’re going to find any dead bodies like Lake Mead, but there certainly are old ghosts around those buildings.”

Those who lived in Old Kernville went on to create New Kernville where a Wild West-themed festival titled, "Whiskey Flat Days" is held every year.

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