Street Scene in
was founded in 1888 when the Santa Fe Railroad arrived. Located
on the Mojave River, the area had already become a thriving mining
center when silver was discovered six miles north in the Calico
Mountains in 1882.
Named for the president of
the Santa Fe Railroad, William Barstow
Strong, Barstow thrived along with the nearby successful mining towns of
Calico. However, as the silver began to play out in the nearby mines,
Daggett and Calico began to die, but
grew as it became a busy rail center and included a Harvey House,
built around 1885, part of a chain of restaurants on the railroad. At the turn of the
century, rail travel was considered glamorous and business was
booming, but on September 20, 1908 the Harvey House burned down. It
wouldn't be until 1911 that the
Harvey Company rebuilt and opened up the Casa Del Desierto where gourmet
cuisine was served on fine china once again to the many travelers along the
Comfortable, luxurious rooms
rested the weary rail travelers as the Harvey Girls served food and
provided information. The Harvey House had a reputation
for friendliness and hospitality, and became the focus not only for
travelers but for locals.
Barstow's Harvey House was equipped
with a full ballroom and was the site for many of the town's dances
and social events. At one time,
main street was right in front of the train station and the Harvey
Hotel. However, in the 1920's
the Santa Fe Railroad literally bought the whole street a moved it to
where it is today. The grand opening for the "new" Main Street
was July 4, 1925.
automobile began to replace rail travel,
traveled Barstow's "new" Main Street barreling straight through
the middle of town, and the
remained a popular stopping point.
However, as Route 66 gained popularity, and when the Santa Fe Railroad
started serving meals on the trains, the Harvey Houses became shadows
of their former selves. The building was then used mainly for a
machine shop, with a cafeteria and a small Amtrak ticket office. Before long, the Casa Del Desierto was abandoned altogether.
In the late
1980's, Santa Fe
Railway decided to tear down the old Harvey House until an outcry
was raised by local citizens and historians. The old building
was saved by the City of
restoration began, but not before a significant portion of the
building had already been removed. The Casa Del Desierto was re-dedicated in 1999
and is home to several arts groups,
the Mother Road Route 66 Museum, and now the
Western America Railroad Museum.