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Mojave Desert Communities:

Barstow, California

Photo of downtown Barstow after sunset
Named for William Barstow Strong, the 10th president of the Santa Fe Railroad

History of Barstow, California

Barstow, California, has a rich history that dates back to the late 19th century. Here's an overview of key points in its history:

Early Inhabitants:

Before European settlers arrived, the Barstow area was inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Mojave people. These tribes had a rich cultural history in the region.

Railroad Development:

Barstow's history is closely tied to the development of the railroad. In the late 19th century, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) played a crucial role in the city's growth. Barstow became a major railroad center and a division point for the ATSF.

Establishment of Barstow:

The town of Barstow was officially established in 1886. It was named after William Barstow Strong, then-president of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway.

Route 66:

Barstow gained further importance in the early 20th century with the establishment of Route 66, the famous "Main Street of America." The city became a popular stop for travelers along this iconic highway, boosting its economic development.

Military Presence:

During World War II, Barstow played a role in supporting the war effort. The nearby Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow was established in 1942 to provide logistical support for the Marine Corps.

Economic Development:

Barstow's economy has historically been linked to transportation and logistics, thanks to its strategic location along major transportation routes. The city has served as a transportation hub for the movement of goods and people.

Railroad Decline:

While the railroad industry was instrumental in Barstow's early growth, the decline of the railroads in the latter half of the 20th century had an impact on the local economy. However, the city has adapted and diversified its economic base over the years.

Tourism and Landmarks:

Barstow remains a popular stop for travelers, particularly due to its location at the junction of Interstates 15 and 40. The city is home to several landmarks, including the historic Harvey House Railroad Depot, now the Barstow Harvey House, which serves as a museum and visitor center.

Cultural and Historical Preservation:

Efforts have been made to preserve Barstow's historical and cultural heritage. The Route 66 "Mother Road" Museum, located in Barstow, celebrates the history of the iconic highway and its impact on the region. Overall, Barstow's history reflects the interconnectedness of transportation, economic development, and the changing landscape of the American West over the past century.

Waterman Ranch in 1880
Waterman Ranch - circa 1884

Barstow Weather

Waterman Mine

Another Beneme Rancheria





Barstow Area Attractions

Heritage of the Mojave River Valley

Moving Barstow

Historic Barstow Photos

Freeways & Highways

About Barstow California

Incorporated 1947
Population - 31,273
Square Miles - 36

Barstow 1890

Barstow is situated at the junction of the California Southern and the A. &. P. Railway, eighty-two miles from San Bernardino and twelve miles from Daggett. It has an elevation of 1,900 feet. The population is about 300. The town is comparatively new. The climate is dry and clear with no fogs or dampness. There is a postoffice, telegraph, telephone and express offices, and daily stage for Calico, connecting with trains, as well as several stores carrying general merchandise, and a large railroad hotel. A silver mine and mill are to be found just north of this place.
Barstow is situated at the junction of the California Southern and the A. &. P. Railway, eighty-two miles from San Bernardino and twelve miles from Daggett. It has an elevation of 1,900 feet. The population is about 300. The town is comparatively new. The climate is dry and clear with no fogs or dampness. There is a postoffice, telegraph, telephone and express offices, and daily stage for Calico, connecting with trains, as well as several stores carrying general merchandise, and a large railroad hotel. A silver mine and mill are to be found just north of this place.

History of Southern California
Lewis Publishing


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These items are historical in scope and are intended for educational purposes only; they are not meant as an aid for travel planning.
Copyright ©Walter Feller. 1995-2023 - All rights reserved.
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