Taft, Lorado, 1860-1936, American sculptor, lecturer, and writer on art, b. Elmwood, Ill., studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1886 he became instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago, exerting a strong influence over the young sculptors of the West. Through his lectures and writings he spread a knowledge of art and aesthetics. After creating decorative sculptures for the Horticultural Building of the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893, he produced portrait work, military monuments, and groups such as Solitude of the Soul and The Blind (Art Inst., Chicago). Large memorials and fountains occupied his later years, among them the colossal Black Hawk overlooking Rock River, Ill.; the Washington monument, Seattle, Wash.; Columbus Memorial Fountain, Washington, D.C.; and Fountain of the Great Lakes and Fountain of Time, Chicago. His principal literary works are The History of American Sculpture (1903) and Recent Tendencies in Sculpture (1921).
Taft, Robert Alphonso, 1889-1953, American politician, b. Cincinnati, Ohio; son of William Howard Taft. He practiced law in Ohio and served (1921-26, 1931-32) in the state legislature. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1938, Taft quickly became the acknowledged leader of conservative Republicans. He attacked President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal for the expansion of federal power at the expense of state and local government and vigorously urged economy in government and restoration of balanced budgets. A leading advocate of isolationism before World War II, he later backed U.S. participation in the United Nations. In 1947 he helped write the Taft-Hartley Labor Act. After the war Taft again became the voice of the isolationists: he voted against ratification of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and changed his position on the United Nations. Taft was a supporter of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who condemned the Korean and China policies of the Truman administration. Known to friends and enemies alike as "Mr. Republican," Taft was a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 1952 but lost to Dwight D. Eisenhower. After Eisenhower's election, Taft became Senate majority leader and a friend and influential adviser of Eisenhower in his first months as president. He acted as an important bridge between the Eastern and Midwestern factions of his party. Taft's Foreign Policy for Americans appeared in 1951.

See biography by J. T. Patterson (1972); study by R. Kirk and J. McClelland (1967).

Taft, William Howard, 1857-1930, 27th President of the United States (1909-13) and 10th Chief Justice of the United States (1921-30), b. Cincinnati.

Early Career

After graduating (1878) from Yale, he attended Cincinnati Law School. He received his law degree in 1880. He became a Cincinnati lawyer and soon had political posts as assistant prosecuting attorney for Hamilton co. (1881-83), assistant county solicitor (1885-87), and judge of the superior court of Ohio (1887-90). He became nationally prominent as a figure in Republican politics in 1890, when President Benjamin Harrison chose him as U.S. Solicitor General.

After service as a federal circuit judge (1892-1900) and as dean of the Cincinnati law school (1898-1900), he was appointed (1900) head of the commission sent to organize civil government in the Philippines, and he was named first civil governor of the Philippine Islands; he did much to better relations between Filipinos and Americans. In 1904 his friend President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Taft Secretary of War. Taft became a close adviser to the President and was prominent in Latin American affairs, conducting the delicate negotiations attending U.S. intervention in Cuba in 1906.


Roosevelt chose Taft as his successor, and the Republican party named him as presidential candidate in the election of 1908, in which he defeated William Jennings Bryan. He was expected to continue Roosevelt's policies, and to a large extent he did. Trusts were vigorously prosecuted under the Sherman Antitrust Act; the Interstate Commerce Commission was strengthened by the Mann-Elkins Act (1910); and Taft's Latin American policy, known as "dollar diplomacy," was to an extent only an enlargement of Roosevelt's Panama policy and the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. The emphasis in all these policies had, however, changed. In Latin America, for instance, the accent was on protection of property and interests of Americans abroad rather than on national interest. Members of the Republican party who favored progressive policies were increasingly restive, and the Insurgents movement grew strong.

The administration made positive achievements in the inauguration of the postal savings bank (1910) and the parcel-post system (1912), and the creation of the Dept. of Labor (1911). Nevertheless, Taft was generally at odds with the progressive elements in his party: he failed to support the Insurgents' attempt to oust the dictatorial speaker of the House of Representatives, Joseph Cannon; he favored the Payne-Aldrich tariff, a high-tariff measure that was denounced by progressive Republicans; and he supported Richard Ballinger against Gifford Pinchot in the Ballinger-Pinchot controversy.

Meanwhile, Taft's relations with Roosevelt deteriorated, and the former President joined the opposition to Taft. In 1912, Roosevelt fought vigorously for the Republican presidential nomination. When he failed and Taft got the nomination, Roosevelt headed the Progressive party and ran in the election as the Progressive (popularly called the Bull Moose) candidate. The Republican vote was split, and the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson, won.

Later Life

Taft retired from public life and taught law (1912-21) at Yale. He was cochairman (1918-19) of the War Labor Conference in World War I. In 1921, President Harding appointed him Chief Justice. His chief contribution to the Supreme Court was his administrative efficiency.


Taft's writings include The United States and Peace (1914) and Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers (1916). See Taft and Roosevelt: The Intimate Letters of Archie Butt (1930, repr. 1971); biographies by H. F. Pringle (1939, repr. 1964), J. I. Anderson (1981), and J. C. Casey (1989); A. T. Mason, William Howard Taft, Chief Justice (1965); P. E. Coletta, The Presidency of William Howard Taft (1973).

Taft is a city in Kern County, California, United States. The population was about 9,200 people as of March, 2008 according to the local newspaper "The Taft Independent." Adjoining the town to the north is the unincorporated area called Ford City. On the south end of Taft's municipal border is another unincorporated area known as South Taft. Combining Ford City and South Taft to Taft's official population results in roughly 20,000 people.

Taft and Oil

Taft is situated in a major petroleum and natural gas production region in California and is one of the few remaining towns in the United States which exist exclusively because of nearby oil reserves. The discovery of oil in the region occurred in the late 1800s near Maricopa, seven miles (11 km) south of Taft. Many other oil and gas accumulations were discovered around Taft during the early to mid-1900s, notably the Midway field (near Fellows, California), Sunset field (later found to be part of the same trend, accounting for the modern combined name of Midway-Sunset), and the Buena Vista. The operational activities within these fields that have been the economic life blood of Taft for over 100 years.

The town is built between two major California oilfields: the Midway-Sunset and the Buena Vista Hills fields. The super-giant Midway-Sunset field has produced approximately 2.8 billion barrels of crude oil, most of it heavy gravity (13-14 degrees API). The Occidental Petroleum-operated Elk Hills field is north of Taft. Enhanced oil recovery operations in the form of steam production and injection have been used on the thick viscous crude oil of the Midway-Sunset field since the mid- to late-1960s. The reservoirs of the Midway-Sunset field are composited layers of mostly unconsolidated sandstones of late Miocene age, shallowly buried. The shallow burial depth and ideal nature of the sandstones make them almost perfectly suited for steam injection. As a result, the amount of oil that can be recovered is greatly increased.

Standard Oil, later the Standard Oil Company of California (modern Chevron), made Taft its corporate operational headquarters. At one time it is reported that as many as 6,000 Taftians were employed with Standard Oil. The hub of this activity was "11-C Camp", so named due to its township location in section 11 and designated "township C" by Standard's mapping department. Within the camp was everything imaginable to run a large oil and gas company: a rail spur from the line running through Taft, steel and timber for derrick construction and maintenance, pipe, valves, numerous offices, an expansive and highly specialized machine shop, a plethora of supply shops, the car and truck fleet, bunkhouses for workers, and dozens of company homes for employees. In its heyday, 11-C camp sported very nice facilities including a large playground, baseball field, tennis courts, a large swimming pool, a cook-house open to the public, beautifully landscaped grounds, and a clubhouse with a television, pool and card tables, and an ice-cream stand. The huge complex gradually closed down over a period of many years. In 1968 Standard Oil of California moved its accounting and finance offices to Concord, California. In the late 1980s the machine shop was closed and auctioned, signaling the end of the 11-C Camp era.

Many other oil companies had operations in the area, including larger companies such as Shell, Texaco, Exxon, Mobil, Gulf, and Arco; and smaller outfits (but with a large local presence) such as Santa Fe Energy, Berry Petroleum, Tannehill, M.H. Whittier, and lately Plains Exploration and Production. In the mid 1990s, according to California's Department of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), there were 68 operating companies working the Midway-Sunset field alone. While the names of most of these companies have changed or are gone altogether, the production activities have been continuous.

In celebration of its oil heritage, Taft holds its "Oildorado" festival every five years. Oildorado was first started in 1930 (see below) and was held intermittently before then.

In the early days of oil exploration and production, long before the advent of modern blowout preventions, gushers were the norm. Although there were many, the Lakeview Gusher was the grand-daddy of them all, producing 100,000 barrels of oil per day at its peak. In all, the Lakeview No.1 produced about nine million barrels of oil (a very respectable cumulative production for a single well in this area). The well and its State historical marker can be found along the Petroleum Club road, just off SR 33 south of town.

Taft was also the site of a military airfield named Gardner Field which was used to train pilots during World War II. After the base was closed its abandoned airstrip served as a clandestine dragstrip for many years.


Today, the railroad, originally built to export crude oil and import drinking water, is gone but the area still has a significant oil industry presence.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons operates a prison on Cadet Road south of town. There is a large, modern high school serving area students. The West Kern Oil Museum, at 1168 Wood Street, has vast holdings including pumps, fire apparatus, trucks, a historic wooden derrick, photos, models, and extensive displays of local history back to Indian times. The town's newspaper, the Midway Driller, Was reputed to be the oldest daily newspaper in California. On or about 2005, the "Daily Midway Driller" became the "Midway Driller" and is now pressed on Tuesdays and Fridays. The town's second weekly newspaper, the Taft Independent, began publication on July 4, 2006. Taft-Kern County Airport (FAA identifier: L17) is located at the east edge of town at FAA-provided coordinates and is a favorite for parachutists in Kern County and the South San Joaquin Valley.

Taft is also known as a huge methamphetamine consumer (i.e. "They're All Fucking Tweaking").

Formerly named Moron

According to a display at the West Kern Oil Museum, local residents asked the Southern Pacific Railroad if the station could be named Moro when the rails arrived about 1900. A railroad official, the story says, declined because the name would be too easily confused with the coastal town of Morro Bay. Instead, the railroad directed the station be called Moron. Pictures of local businesses, including the Moron Pharmacy, hang in the museum. After a fire burned much of the town during the 1920s, it was renamed Taft, in honor of the U.S. President of the same name.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.1 square miles (39.2 km²), all of it land.


This section contains some outdated information.

As of the census of 2000, there were 6,400 people, 2,233 households, and 1,565 families residing in the city. The population density was 422.6 people per square mile (163.2/km²). There were 2,478 housing units at an average density of 163.6/sq mi (63.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.16% White, 1.97% Black or African American, 0.84% Native American, 1.27% Asian, 0.44% Pacific Islander, 10.39% from other races, and 1.94% from two or more races. 15.55% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 2,233 households out of which 33.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.9% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.9% were non-families. 24.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 12.1% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 108.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,861, and the median income for a family was $42,468. Males had a median income of $47,000 versus $26,838 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,564. About 13.1% of families and 17.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.5% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.


Local Holidays

Every 5 years during October, Taft holds a quinquennial birthday celebration. This event began as a parade and civic luncheon, commemorating Taft's 20th birthday in November 1930. These celebrations were held every 5 years until World War II, during which time none were held.

After the war, in 1946, the celebrations began again and the Taft District Chamber of Commerce made them permanent. A contest was held to choose a name for the event and "Oildorado" was chosen, having been submitted by W.A. Poff.

Today, Oildorado is a week long celebration during which many events are held. Oildorado is an ongoing testimony for Taft as a certified "Oil Town" -its origins owing solely to oil production and exploration, a rare distinction among any town in the world. As such, there are several oilfield-type skill contests held during each Oildorado. These include or have included: welding, pipe threading and fitting, rod wrenching, various skill tests with a backhoe, and at least as late as 1965 a regular well-pulling contest with local well servicing rigs and crews. Understandably, due to safety and probably liability issues, the well-pulling contests ceased. Much more could be said of these various contests and their participants through the years, it being quite memorable for those who were there.

Additionally, there is a beauty pageant where an Oildorado Queen is selected, a beard growing contest, talent shows, barbecues, street fairs, parades, and in 2005, motocross races. People usually dress in cowboy boots and a cowboy hat throughout the week.

It is also customary for all men to grow beards during this time. If a man does not grow a beard, he must pay for a permit and wear a bolo tie or lapel pin called a Smooth Puss Badge. If he is caught clean shaven without his badge he may be arrested by the Posse, a group of men dressed in western garb, sporting pistols and rifles filled with blanks. The man will be placed in a jail truck called "The Hoosegow" and driven around town for an hour for all to see. Warrants may also be purchased to have somebody else arrested and placed in The Hoosegow.

The Posse is overseen by the Grand Marshall. The group patrols the streets, schools, and businesses and engages in make-believe shootouts with the Bandits, who customarily wear handkerchiefs on their faces.

Other staples of this week long celebration include wooden nickels, Dinner Theatres, Classic Car shows, and rodeos.

Notable persons from Taft

Movies about Taft

Movies filmed in Taft

Bands from Taft


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