Photo courtesy by Mike Woodward

Story by Catherine Stachowiak

The founder of the Whiskey Flat Days annual encampment reenactment, Mike Woodward told the Kern Valley Sun, on Friday January 26, that he 100 percent anticipates being able to do his annual reenactment at Whiskey Flat Days, now that repairs are being provided, at the site where storm damage occurred last year.  

Woodward said that when Adam Hamilton came down from northern California at the end of the gold rush, in the 1850s to 1860s, he set up two whiskey barrels and a plank on the hilltop by where the Big Blue Mine is currently located.

Old Adam Hamilton was an entrepreneur. And the ladies of the mining camp knew his intentions and told the men folk, “Get him out of town.”  So the miners ran Hamilton down into the flat area, to the original location of Whiskey Flat, and set up a camp because the women didn’t want him up there, by the mines, getting the men folk liquored up.  That was the start of Old Kernville according to Woodward’s account.  

Woodward said that when the dam was put in, back in the 1950s, the Old Kernville was moved to what is known as “New Kernville.”

The area of the current encampment is what most replicates the authenticity of the old Whiskey Flat of 150 years ago, Woodward explained.

Woodward’s reenactment troop likes to include a cavalry in the Whiskey Flat acts. They especially like to include a mineshaft because 35,000 miners inhabited the Kern Valley in those days. 

Woodward said, “We’re motivated by our knowledge of history because we’re all semi professional re-enactors (and have) been doing this for years.  And our goal is to share with the public so they can see what life in this valley was like 150 years ago.”

The traditional Wild West Whiskey Flat reenactment at Scodie Avenue, is planned to include the best of the era. The team hopes to provide cowboy, mining, and crafting reenactments and camps.

“I’ve never had a year when we have not had cowboy church on Sunday. God is part of what we do. And that was the case back when life was extremely difficult and everybody had a Bible. That’s the way life was. It might sound like a cliché but it is absolutely the truth. That’s the way this country was formed from 1776 on up through the gold rush,” Woodward said.  Visitors and locals can find the Whiskey Flat Days schedule online at>events

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