Keene (formerly, Wells) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Kern County, California in the foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains at the southern extreme of the San Joaquin Valley. Keene is located 8.5 miles (14 km) northwest of Tehachapi, at an elevation of 2602 feet (793 m). The population was 339 at the 2000 census.
The headquarters of the United Farm Workers (UFW), a national farmworkers organization organized and led by Cesar Chavez, is located in Keene, and is sometimes referred to as "Nuestra Señora Reina de La Paz".
Keene is located in the greater Tehachapi area.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 9.7 square miles (25.2 km²), all of it land.
The Keene post office opened in 1879, closed in 1881, and re-opened in 1885. Keene was founded in 1876 with the name Wells as a railroad town. The name Wells honored Madison P. Wells, local rancher. The town was renamed Keene in honor of James P. Keene, a financier.
The UFW moved its national headquarters to Keene from Delano, California. César Chávez spent his last days in Keene. The walls of his United Farm Workers office in Keene were lined with hundreds of books ranging in subject from philosophy, economics, cooperatives, and unions, to biographies of Gandhi and the Kennedys. He is buried at 29700 Woodford Tehachapi Rd, Keene, CA 93531, on the campus of the UFW headquarters.
The National Chavez Center was opened on the UFW campus in 2004 by the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation. It currently consists of a visitor center, memorial garden and the grave site of civil rights leader. When it is fully completed, the 187-acre site will include a museum and conference center to explore and share Chávez's work.
As of the census of 2000, there were 339 people, 136 households, and 99 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 34.8 people per square mile (13.4/km²). There were 177 housing units at an average density of 18.2/sq mi (7.0/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 81.71% White, 2.95% Native American, 7.08% from other races, and 5.60% from two or more races. 10.91% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 136 households out of which 22.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 70.6% were married couples living together, 2.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.5% were non-families. 22.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 2.9% from 18 to 24, 22.1% from 25 to 44, 38.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 106.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 108.8 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $49,500, and the median income for a family was $59,583. Males had a median income of $60,078 versus $27,813 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $27,986. About 22.5% of families and 24.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.3% of those under age 18 and 14.3% of those age 65 or over.