Kern Peak P2K SPS / WSC

Mon, Oct 6, 2008

With: Tom Becht

Etymology Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 Profile

Kern Peak (11,500 ft.)

Named by USGS in 1907

Also River, Peak, Point, Canyon, Hot Spring, Lake, Ridge, Flat

"Edward Meyer Kern (1823-1863), artist and draftsman, topographer with John C. Fremont's third expedition to the West. The river was named by Fremont. He has split the expedition into two parties; Kern was with the Walker-Talbot detachment, which crossed Walker Pass in December 1845 and camped on the river. 'From these circumstances the pass in which Walker and Kern were encamped was called Walker's Pass; and, as no name was known to Colonel Fremont for the stream which flowed from it, he named it Kern River. The stream was, and is now, known to the native Californians as the Po-sun-co-la, a name doubtless derived from the Indians. When I was at eth ordinary crossing place of the river, and preparing a small raft to cross, three Californians rode up to the opposite bank, and asked, in Spanish, if this was the Po-sun-co-la.' (Williamson, Report, 17.)

Thus are false conclusions drawn. 'Po-sun-co-la' actually was given in August 1806 by Padre Zalvidea. 'The river we called La Porciuncula, from the Saint's day of Los Angeles Pueblo, the 2d of August, as it was discovered by us on that day, and our chaplain, the Rev. Father Jose Maria Zalvides [Zalvidea] ... celebrated solemn high mass with the best material and assistance we poor sinners of soldiers could give him.' (A reminiscent account by an old soldier, son of Raymundo Carillo, San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, June 5, 1865.)

The river was first called Rio de San Felipe by Garces when he came upon it in May 1, 1776, a river 'whose waters, crystalline, bountiful, and palatable, flowed on a course from the east through a straitened channel.' (Garces, vol. 1, 281.)

Kern Lake and Little Kern Lake were created by a landslide in the winter of 1867-68. (W. F. Dean, MWCJ 1, no. 1, May 1902: 14.) All the 'Kern' names, including 'Little Kern River' and 'South Fork Kern River,' were on the first editions of the Olancha and Mt. Whitney 30' maps, 1907, except 'Kern Hot Springs' which appeared in 1927."
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada


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