Lamont-Weedpatch History Trail
Find the following points of interest as you travel from the north end of town, heading south on or near Weedpatch Highway. If you are visiting from the south you can start at the end of the trail and visit them in reverse order.
- Welcome to Lamont Sign, corner of Weedpatch Highway and Mt. View Road – The Lamont Community was established in 1923, named for the Scottish clan of one of the early founders, Arthur S. McFadden. Although the communities of Lamont and Weedpatch are unincorporated towns, the Greater Lamont Chamber of Commerce works diligently to try and improve the community for those who live, work, and visit here. Placing signs at either end of town is one example of this work. The Chamber also reconstructed the original "Welcome to Lamont" sign that is on Panama Road as you enter town from the west.
- Former Rodeo Exhibition Grounds of Gene and Bobby Clark, Weedpatch Highway – The Clark brothers were National Rodeo Hall of Fame members. Rodeo clowns by trade, they were known for their exhibitions that took place across from where Lamont Park is now.
Smokehouse Café, 11104 Weedpatch Highway – location of the death of one of the UFW’s “Five Martyrs” during the 1973 grape strike, Nagi Daifallah. On the morning of August 15, 1973, Nagi Daifallah, a young Arab member of the UFW died from injuries inflicted by Deputy Sheriff Gilbert Cooper of the Kern County Sheriff’s Department. Nagi had come to this country from his native Yemen looking for a better life. Yemenese Farm Workers were the latest group of people to come to California to be exploited by the California growers. Most of them, like Nagi, were young men in their early twenties, they were unusually shy, of slight frame, Moslem, spoke no English, and live in barren labor camps. Like other workers, they were paid only when they worked and lived wretched lives. Yet they came by the thousands because Yemen was and is one of the poorest countries of the world where the average annual income was $94. Before the UFWs’ organizing efforts, there were no alternatives for these workers. Nagi was 24 years old when he was killed. He was 5 feet tall and weighed 100 lbs. Unlike many of his fellow workers, he had learned English and could communicate well. Many times he had served as an interpreter for UFW organizers, he was always very active in union activities, he was a good UFW member, and, in fact, was known as a leader of the Arab workers. As a striker from El Rancho Farms, he was one of a handful of Arab brothers who were on the picket lines in the Lamont area for many weeks of the strike. At Nagi’s funeral thousands of UFW workers and supporters followed the casket bearing Nagi’s body on the 4-mile trek to the Forty Acres in Delano. After the service, a long car caravan accompanied the casket to the Bakersfield airport and Nagi’s body was flown to Yemen for burial in his homeland. Mushin Daifallah, Nagi’s father told us that Nagi was a dutiful son who sent him money as often as he could to support the family in Yemen. He said “I lost my son when I needed him the most.”
UFW Lamont Field Office – Cesar Chavez spoke from here in July 1969. It also housed a farmworker health clinic and service center.
- Sites of the 1973 grape strikes and related activities are located throughout Lamont, including the July 19th arrest of 439 people; Guimarra protest of almost 2500 in Lamont; and death of Juan de la Cruz, another of the UFW’s five martyrs. Many of the fields around Lamont have seen a great deal of history as the UFW supported agricultural laborers in obtaining fair working conditions.
- P.O.W. Camp, DiGiorgio and Edison Highway – During WWII an internment camp was housed at this location. It was first used to hold German citizens and residents, then a few thousand Japanese prisoners.
- Weedpatch Community, corner of Weedpatch Highway and DiGiorgio – The community of Weedpatch was founded in 1922, although references to the area being called “Weedpatch” go back to 1874 because of the abundance of weeds there. The community was also called Alexander’s Corner for Cal Alexander, a prominent local resident. Hollywood stars would visit the area because it was known for it's good bird hunting.
- Grimmway Farms, Corner of Malaga and DiGiorgio – Started by the Grimm brothers in the 1960s, Grimmway is the largest grower, producer, and shipper of carrots in the world. They also produce potatoes, citrus, and carrot juices. Also the creator and maker of “baby carrots”, their “Bunny Luv” carrots are available across the nation and in over 20 countries.
- Mixteco Community, various locations throughout Weedpatch – Weedpatch is home to one of the largest Mixteco communities in California, which is very active through the Centro Unidad Benito Juarez, https://www.unidadpopular.org/.
- Original Weedpatch Camp housing, Dunsmere Street in Weedpatch – Houses were moved to Weedpatch from the Federal Labor Camp, and many original homes exist to this day. John Steinbeck stayed in the Weedpatch community in 1936 while still working as a newspaper reporter, and working on his novel "Grapes of Wrath."
- Grapes of Wrath, corner of Weedpatch Highway and Buena Vista – This is believed to be the exact stop sign that was referenced in John Steinbeck's famous novel. The Joad family is traveling out from Bakersfield and told that the camp they are looking for us up ahead at the next corner to the left. His novel hit the best seller list within weeks of being released and by the end of the year 500,000 copies had been sold. It was banned in many places, and burned in nearby Bakersfield, but has now been hailed as ones of the greatest American novels ever written and has won both the Pulitzer and Novel Prize, and resulted in a film and play.
- Weedpatch store, corner of Weedpatch Highway and Buena Vista – This was the only phone in the area for many years, and reportedly was used by those including Clark Gable and other Hollywood celebrities when hunting in the area. It was also the site of the local court in a backroom of the store.
- Weedpatch Camp, 0.5mi east of Weedpatch Highway on Sunset Blvd. – This is the location of the famous Camp, and one of many, that housed migrant laborers during the Dust Bowl migration. Many buildings are still visible, even from outside of the camp. The Kern County Housing Authority assists the Dust Bowl Committee in historic preservation of this important piece of American history. Tom Collins was the famous manager of the camp who still features in the stories of many local "Okies" and "Arkies". Filming for the Grapes of Wrath movie was done on site, as well as for other movies featuring migrant labor camps. Additionally, Dorothea Lange's famous photography features the difficult, but beautiful, struggle of many of the families who stayed here in their search for a better life.
- Sunset Middle School, corner of Weedpatch Highway and Sunset Blvd. – Leo B Hart’s story, Children of the Dust Bowl, famously highlighted the many innovative and creative ways that children in the local labor camp were inspired and educated, including by deconstructing, and learning to fly, an actual airplane.
- Vineland School Bell/view of White Wolf fault, Sunset Blvd and Vineland – In1952 one of the most severe earthquakes in the history of the south Central Valley hit along the White Wolf fault. Locally, the earthquake was known for it's destruction, symbolized for many in the bell of Vineland School falling. The Vineland School district was founded in 1890 near this location as well.
- Vineland Cemetery is located to the South on Vineland – and is the final resting place of many notable local residents.
This ends the Lamont/Weedpatch History Trail. From here you can continue on to Arvin and find points of interest below. The City of Arvin began in 1914 when a post office was established here, and was later incorporated as a city in 1960. It was named by the first postmaster, Mrs. Birdie Heard, for Arvin Richardson, a pioneer in the construction and installation of concrete irrigation pipe in the region.
- Adobe Plaza in Arvin features a Plaza names for one of the leaders of the UFW movement, Dolores Huerta
- Arvin was home to an area known regionally as "Okieville" where Okies began to settle and find permanent homes after their time in the local labor camps.
- In the courtyard of St. Thomas Church there is a marker honoring Francisco Garces. Padre Garces was the first recorded non-Indian who came to visit the area in April 1776 seeking a new route from Mexico to California. His journey covered more than 2000 miles of uncharted wilderness, many of these became trails and later highways and railroads.
- In the foothills of near the base of the Black Oak mountain, archaeologists found evidence of a Yokuts Native American Village, including a cemetery where beads were found.
- Tejon Ranch begins at the eastern edge of the Arvin community, the largest private landholding in California which came about as a result of federal gifting of land originally comprised of four Mexican land grants. The Tejon Ranch is known for growing a variety of crops, although in this area it is primarily cattle grazing. It is the subject of the largest conservation and land-use pacts in California history.
- Each spring the Arvin hills come alive with blazes of orange, yellow, purple, and white in one of the most glorious wildflower blooms along the foothills of Tehachapi mountain range.
From here, if you continue heading east you can visit the Arvin National Cemetery, and La Paz Cultural Center, the historical home of the UFW. For travelers heading southbound you can visit the Tejon Outlets and historic Fort Tejon. If you are heading east or north, you can drive by the Arvin Sierra Gliderport and Kern Slough Station, which are both marked with historic markers.
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