November 12, 2014

Photo Essay: Barstow's Harvey House & Railroad Museum

I first visited the Harvey House in Barstow in 2009 during a brief overnight roadtrip from Joshua Tree, which brought me through Amboy, the Mojave Preserve, Zzyzx, Barstow, Victorville, and back.

At the time, Barstow did not earn its place amongst my favorite U.S. cities...

...but its still-operating 100+ year old train depot along the old Route 66...

...formerly known as the Casa del Desierto ("House of the Desert")...

...really is the Jewel of the Desert, and worth a return visit this year.

Designed by the same architect as Union Station's Harvey House... closed in 1971 and fell into severe disrepair when stripped by scavengers and trashed by squatters throughout the 1980s.

It was nearly lost until the city of Barstow purchased it in 1990, restored it, and reopened it in 1999.

Now available for event rentals and office leasing upstairs (where the hotel once was)...

...the Barstow Harvey House once again welcomes passengers into the heart of the Mojave Desert, just as it did when it opened in 1911...

...though rail travel isn't quite as leisurely and luxurious as it once was, when neckties were required for entry to the Harvey House.

Nowadays, it's also home to the Route 66 Mother Road Museum, and the Western American Railroad Museum...

...featuring artifacts from the old Santa Fe Railway... well as many of the trains themselves.

The (supposedly haunted) Harvey House that stands in Barstow today is actually the fourth Harvey House in that location, the prior one having been built out of wood in 1885 and subsequently burned down in 1908. Now made entirely out of brick masonry with very little wood, it's not likely to burn down again. But its rich history – including housing troops for World War II – makes it a likely candidate for lots of paranormal activity, including a few ghosts who have taken up permanent residence there.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Union Station's Harvey House Restaurant, Closed to the Public
Photo Essay: At the Station Down in San Berdoo
A Travel Town Birthday in Griffith Park
Photo Essay: 100 Years of Trona
Early Retirement

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