Barstow, California, has a rich history related to railroads. Here is an overview of the railroad history in Barstow:
- Early Railroad Development: Barstow’s history as a railroad town dates back to the late 19th century when the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway (AT&SF) and the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) played significant roles in its development. The AT&SF arrived in Barstow in 1883, and the SP followed shortly after.
- Railroad Facilities: Barstow became a strategic location for both railroads due to its position as a junction point. It was a division point on the AT&SF line, meaning it had extensive locomotive maintenance and repair facilities. Additionally, it served as a crew change and refueling station.
- Harvey House: The historic Casa del Desierto, also known as the Harvey House, was a prominent feature of the Barstow railroad history. It was a luxurious hotel and restaurant built by the Fred Harvey Company in 1911 to serve passengers traveling on the AT&SF railway. The Harvey House has been beautifully restored and now houses a museum.
- Railroad Growth: Barstow continued growing as a railroad town over the years. It had a large rail yard, roundhouse, and various support facilities to handle the extensive railroad traffic passing through the area.
- Importance as a Railroad Junction: Barstow’s strategic location made it a crucial junction for freight and passenger trains. It was a hub for transferring goods and passengers between different rail lines, making it a bustling activity center.
- Modern Times: While the significance of railroads has declined in recent years, Barstow still maintains its historical ties to the railroad industry. The Barstow Rail Museum and the Harvey House Museum are popular attractions for visitors interested in learning about the town’s railroad history.
Barstow’s history as a railroad town is an integral part of its identity, and the legacy of the railroads can still be seen and appreciated in the town today.