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History of Hart Park : 1890-1990, Kern County, California

By: Gilbert Peter Gia

The Bakersfield Californian objected to the barren site, and also to the twisting path from town - there were nearer and better camping places. Besides, it wrote, the “hot bend in the river" was no place to spend $20,000 of tax money. The Californian rallied the public to oppose the purchase, but the rival Bakersfield Morning Echo considered the old Barker property a fine place for a public park.

Park visitors were a diverse group. In May 1929, in late night and early morning hours, mixed-sex, nude bathing parties had been observed at the reservoir. Hart was incensed. He had labored to create a beautiful park for everyone, but he was prepared to protect it against criticism. He warned, "You can't quote me too strongly on this matter, I am going to have three deputy sheriffs on the lookout at the Kern River park, and if anyone, man or woman, is caught bathing in t...

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