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Bakersfield's founder, Colonel Thomas Baker, arrived with the discovery of gold in the nearby Kern River valley in 1851. Now Kern County's biggest city—its 347,000 residents include the largest Basque community in the United States—Bakersfield probably is best known as Nashville West, a country-music haven closely affiliated with performers Buck Owens (who died here in 2006) and Merle Haggard (who was born here in 1937). It also has two very fine museums.
Bakersfield at a Glance
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