The town of Allensworth was a small farming community that was founded in 1908 by Lt. Colonel Allen Allensworth, along with several other African Americans who were intent on improving the lives of African Americans, both economically and socially. It was the only town in California at the time that was founded, financed, and governed by African Americans. Many people seeking to escape the discrimination and segregation that was found in other communities converged in the town of Allensworth, and it was soon quite prosperous.
Unfortunately, the town founder, Colonel Allen Allensworth, was killed in a traffic accident while visiting the small town of Monrovia, CA. After his demise, the town experienced several hardships, including drought, poor crop yields, and a failing water supply. By 1966, arsenic was found in the water supply, and the town was slated for destruction, but historically-minded citizens were able to lobby for its survival and in 1975 it was declared a state historic park.
There are several buildings still standing from the early 1900s that have been restored and refurnished in order to give people a glimpse of the town’s history, including the Colonel’s personal home, the town library, the schoolhouse, and several other homes and barns. Celebratory events occur here on a fairly regular basis and there are a number of hiking and biking trails that can be used to explore both the town and the surrounding countryside, and a small campground provides a great space to park your camper for a night or two while you spend some time discovering the area.
RV Rentals in Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park
Transportation in Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park is just over ten miles from the nearest small town, Earlimart, and approximately 45 miles north of the bustling city of Bakersfield, CA. In most cases, you will be making a westward turn from Central Valley Highway onto a fairly narrow two-lane road that crosses over a railroad before reaching the park. While the roads in the state historic park the area are fully paved, they are also fairly narrow, especially if you are driving a big rig. Fortunately, most of the roads are fairly straight and are easy to navigate with either a car or an RV, despite being narrow. Motor vehicles are only allowed on designated roads and must maintain a speed of 15 miles per hour or less in any of the camp or picnic areas, and drivers should be aware that pedestrians and bicyclists may also be on the road at any given time.
Parking can be found both at the campground and near the day-use area and visitor's center.
Campgrounds and parking in Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park
Campsites in Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park
John L. Whitehead Jr. Campground
There are only 15 campsites that are available in the park itself, all of which require reservations in advance. Reservations can be created from one day to six months in advance. Visits are limited to 30 days in any one year in this historic park. While the sites are not equipped for electricity, water, or sewer, they do each come with a fire ring and a picnic table.
Gathering firewood is prohibited in California State Parks, but fuel for the fire rings is available for purchase within the park. Pets are allowed but must be under immediate physical control at all times, either confined or on a leash no more than six feet in length and are prohibited on trails or wherever else it is posted. Be cautious about leaving your pet alone in the summer, particularly in an RV or any other vehicle. Temperatures routinely reach over 100 degrees, which can quickly overheat our canine and feline companions. Generators are allowed for use during the day but prohibited during the quiet hours of 10 PM and 6 AM.
Seasonal activities in Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park
Take a Tour
Guided tours of this historic park are available year round, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. Tour guides give insights to the lives of the pioneers who established this small town and the many buildings that they erected. The tours are available for purchase from 10 AM to 4 PM each day at the visitor's center which is located on Douglas Ave next to the day use area. If you prefer to learn about the town without a guide, self-guided cell phone tours, with brief histories of the town’s residents, are also available on site.
Visit Historical Exhibits
While wonderful interactive tours are available to get a good idea of the historic buildings and the history of the town that once resided here, some visitors prefer to spend some extra time exploring all of the ins and outs of specific exhibits. The schoolhouse, an important historical building, is still furnished as it was in 1915. The Mary Dickinson Memorial Library was developed in honor of Colonel Allensworth’s mother, by the Colonel’s wife, from the building that had previously been the town’s school. Even Colonel Allensworth’s personal home is available for viewing. It is furnished as it would have been around 1912 and contains objects from his life in the service and in ministry.
Pixley National Wildlife Refuge is just under five miles away from Colonel Allensworth State Park and many of the wild residents are likely to venture near the historic park. Mammals such as badgers, bobcats, jackrabbits and the endangered San Joaquin Kit Fox may be seen in the area. Hawks and owls hunt in the grassy areas, and lark and sparrow species are abundant. Sandhill Cranes also frequently nest in the refuge and are likely to be spotted flying overhead, particularly in the fall and early winter months.
Biking is a great way to get around this historic park as the majority of the roads in the park are paved, and there are several trails that are designed for both hiking and biking. It is important to be aware of your surroundings when biking on the roads as you will be sharing the road with automobile drivers and other campervans, but the 15 MPH speed limit helps to ensure the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians that are exploring the historic town.
Geocaching is a high-tech scavenger hunt made possible due to the advent of GPS and cell phone technology. Players utilize GPS technology to discover the general area of caches that are hidden by other players. Once nearby, they use observational skills and the occasional clue in order to locate the cache, some sort of small hidden container, leaving a record of their find on the log sheet that is found in the cache. Some caches are even large enough to contain small trinkets or toys, which the finder can exchange for another trinket or toy of similar value. The organizers of this international activity also have fun trackable tokens that players can move from one cache to another so that the players can track the token’s journey.
Join an Event
There are often events going on at the Colonel Allensworth State Historical Park. Celebrations and community get-togethers are frequent and often center around the founding of the city in the early 1900s. Holidays revolving around the history of people with African heritage in the United States, such as Black History Month and Juneteenth, are also frequently marked by a celebration in Colonel Allensworth State Historical Park. The official website of the park often has a calendar of upcoming events, as do websites for organizations like Friends of Allensworth, which are a group dedicated to preserving the vision and dream that Colonel Allensworth had when he founded the town.