About Barstow California
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation 2,175 ft (663 m). Population 22,639 (2010).
Time zone: Pacific (MST): UTC minus 8 hours. Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7).
Barstow is a town located on Route 66, in central San Bernardino County in the southeast of California. It is almost midway between Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angeles, California. (Map of Barstow).
The classic Route 66 Sign (in the middle of the image) with mileage and Route 66 state shields at El Rancho Motel
The History of Barstow, California
Barstow may be the oldest inhabited spot in the New World if the archaeological site known as The Calico Early Man Site has been dated correctly: 200,000 years old. The dating and the stone tools found have been hotly debated and some consider them Geofacts, that is, stones shaped by the forces of nature and not made by prehistoric humans.
Photograph of William Barstow Strong
More recently the natives that lived along the Mojave River were known as the "Vanyume" or "Beñemé" and were named so by a Spanish missionary, Father Garces during his 1776 expedition to Arizona, during which he trekked along the Mojave and crossed the Desert.
These Native Americans traded with other tribes living along the Colorado River and on the Pacific coast. They spoke a dialect of the Serrano language (The "Serrano", which in Spanish means "mountain people", as they lived in the San Bernardino Mountains to the south of Barstow). They fed on oak acorns gathered in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains and numbered around 1,000 at the time of Spanish arrival. Their ancestors created the stone engravings at the Fossil Canyon Petroglyph Site Archeological Site (near Barstow).
The Spanish had explored California in 1602 and founded Los Angeles in 1769. From there they moved west and established the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel (1771) and in 1810 San Bernardino was explored and a mission established there in 1819. A Ranch was established there in 1842.
In 1780, the Mojave Trail was opened, linking California with Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. It crossed the Mojave desert north of the modern I-40 and US 66, following the Mojave River.
Mojave Trail or Mojave Road
The Natives used a trail from Cajon Pass, a gap between the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains in the south, that reached to the Colorado River in the east along the Mojave River and a series of water holes across the Mojave Desert. Father Garces used the trail during his mission to the Hopi Indians in Arizona in 1776.
Jedediah Smith was the first American to use it westwards, from Utah in 1826, a few years after Mexico became independent from Spain (1821) and California became part of its territory. By the late 1820s "The Old Spanish Trail" had been opened by Mexican traders in New Mexico and it linked with the Mojave Trail at Soda Lake, the drainage point of the Mojave River.
The US defeated Mexico in the 1846-48 war and California became a state of the Union in 1848.
The Mormons expanded west settling along the "Mormon Corridor" (areas settled from 1850 to 1890 by the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormons), and they purchased the San Bernardino ranch in 1851, founding the town. San Bernardino County was formed in 1853.
The US Army Lt. Edward Fitzgerald "Ned" Beale surveyed a wagon trail to California in 1857, which crossed the Colorado River at Ft. Mohave (near Needles) linking up there with the Mojave Trail. A steady inflow of settlers used this Mojave Trail, and this irritated the native people (Paiute, Mojave and Chemehuevi). The government established Fort Cady (1860) and Fort Mohave (1859) to control the natives and protect those using the trail.
The area where Barstow is now located was a camping spot used by those trekking the trail. And as the area had willows, cottonwoods and wild grapes, it was named "Grapevines", near what is now North Barstow (Map showing its location). Later it became a trading post that supplied the travellers and the miners prospecting the mountains in the area.
Camp Cady - Fort Cady
The U.S. Army established a camp to the northeast of Barstow in 1860 and named it after Major Albemarle Cady, a friend of Major James Carleton who founded it during a campaign against the Paiute Indians. The fort was abandonded during the American Civil War between 1861 and 1863, after which it was garrisoned until the natives were finally pacified in 1871.
The Army set up a camp near Barstow in 1858, naming it "Camp Sugar Loaf" and in 1864 Abram Jacoby ran a trading post here. A mine claim by George Lee in 1875 used the name "Grapevine" for the mine.
The Railroad in Barstow
Silver was found in the Calico Mountains in 1881 and the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) extended its line into the area from Bakersfield and built a siding at Grapevine which it named "Waterman Junction" after Robert W. Waterman, a mine owner (Waterman mine is located 4 mi. to the north of Barstow along Irwin Rd.)
In 1883 SP's competitor, the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (A & P - which later was absorbed by the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad) carried its tracks across the Colorado River into California at Needles, linking its network (all the way to Kansas and Missouri) with that of SP who had just finished its line that crossed the Mojave from Waterman Junction.
In 1884 A &P forced its rival to sell them the line and planned to reach Los Angeles through Cajon Pass, but speculators had bought the land at Daggett, point from which the tracks would turn towards Los Angeles; they wanted to re-sell it at exorbitant prices so the railroad moved the planned junction of the Mojave line and the Cajon Pass line to the west, to what would become Barstow. The post office was established in 1886 and the city incorporated in 1947.
Barstow, the name
The station was named after William Barstow Strong (1837 - 1914). He was the president of the AT & SF Railway (1881-1189), also known as William B. Strong.
Borax, silver and gold mining declined by the early 1900s but the town had also become a railroad town (the maintenance shops had been moved there from Daggett, and as a main railroad link between Union Pacific and the AT&SF railroads.
National Old Trails Highway (N.O.T.)
In the early 1900s, cars began to be used and by 1910, decent highways were necessary. The National Old Trails (N.O.T.) built a road from Los Angeles that passed through Barstow towards Needle in its alignment that lined California with the eastern US.
The Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) 1912 map tells us that Barstow had "Meals and lodging, Gasoline, Oil" and that it was 142 miles from Los Angeles. In 1915 it had added "Garage - Repairs" and two Club Signs. The map shoed the "Harvey House" the road crossed to the north of the SF RR tracks east of town and then back to the south side short of the station, it then curved back eastwards before going west again well to the south of town, it did an "S" through Barstow, as shown in this map; it met the Santa Fe RR about 6.5 miles south of Barstow near Lenwood, possibly along Grandview Rd.
The 1915 USGS survey along the Santa Fe railway informs that Barstow was an important division point on the railroad, as the Los Angeles - San Diego line split here from the Bakersfield - San Francisco one. It mentions the "spacious hotel (named) Casa del Desierto (house of the desert)".
That same year, the road linking San Bernardino with Barstow through Cajon Pass became California highway LRN 31, neverthelss San Bernardino County upkept it until the mid-1920s.
The N.O.T. guidebook published in the 1920s has the following to say about Barstow: "Population 500... Harvey House, hotels, garages, camp grounds, etc. Division point of Santa Fe railway. Supply point for gold and silver mines.".
In 1926, the N.O.T. highway was incorporated into the US highway network and the part west of New Mexico became US 66. Nevertheless Route 66 was known as the "National Old Trails Road" for many years in California. By 1926 the alignment across the north side of town was stil there but the main road followed its current alignment along Main Street
The Great Depression hit business in Barstow yet thousands of displaced farmers (who lost their properties due to mortgage foreclosures and the Dust Bowl drought) drove by Barstow seeking jobs in California. There was an inspection station just northwest of Barstow, at Yermo, built in 1930, stopping tainted fruit and turning back "unwanted" migrants, just like the California Agricultural Inspection Station in Daggett, on Route 66.
World War II boosted its economy when a large U.S. Marine Corps supply depot and the Fort Irwin training center were established.
After the war, traffic grew peaking in 1960: Barstow combined US 66 with some 357,000 travellers (in 1960) and US 91 with 814,000; all of which went on to Los Angeles along old Route 66 south of Barstow through Victorville and Cajon Pass. A new safer road was needed and it came in the shape of I-15 and I-40, the interstate system that replaced both US 66 and US 91.
This hurt many of the Route 66 motels and shops catering to travellers in downtown Barstow, but many of them are still operating (below we detail the classic Route 66 attractions in town).
Where to Stay in Barstow
Accommodation in town: check out the hotels and motels in Barstow:
>> Book your Hotel in Barstow
More Lodging Near Barstow along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to Barstow, California
Heading East.... In California
- 145 miles Needles
Further East.... In Arizona
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in California...
- 22 miles Helendale
- 31 miles Victorville
- 40 miles Hesperia
- 51 miles Cajon Junction
- 66 miles Fontana
- 69 miles San Bernardino
- 75 miles Rancho Cucamonga
- 85 miles Pomona
- 96 miles Arcadia
- 103 miles Pasadena
- 112 miles Los Angeles
- 119 miles Hollywood
- 128 miles Santa Monica
Book your room in Barstow
>> Check out the RV campground in Barstow
Weather in Barstow
The weather in Barstow is dry and hot, a Desert climate.
Summers are hot (highs above 100°F, 38°C) and winters have cold mornings (lows close to 30°F or -1°C below freezing). Daily temperature swings are about 30°F (16°C) due to the dryness. Rainfall is around 4.1 in. (105 mm) with about 70% of it falling during the period between Nov. and Apr. Snow may fall occasionally in very small quantities.
The Average temperatures are: in summer (Jul) high around 105°F (41°C) and low of74°F (23°C). During Winter (Jan), high is 61°F (16°C) and low 37°F (3°C).
During summer make sure you stay hydrated. The hot and dry desert climate can dehydrate you quickly. Drink plenty of water and dress for the heat. Read more.
Barstow is located well beyond the western limits of the Rocky Montains, so there is no risk of tornados in this part of California. Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Barstow
You can reach Barstow along old Route 66 which here is named "Old National Trails Highway". Also from I-40 and I-15.
Map of Route 66 in Barstow, CA
Check out Barstow on our Route 66 Map of California, with the complete alignment and all the towns along it.
Map with the alignment of Route 66 through Barstow
Click on this link > > US 66 alignment in Barstow
Route 66's alignment in California: the Historic Route 66 into Barstow
Route 66 across California
U.S. Route 66 does not have any Byway or Historic designation in California despite the survival of long sections of original roadbed between Needles and Santa Monica.
Click Here for an overview of Route 66 across the state of California.
Below you will find detailed information on Old Route 66 in Barstow.
Things to see in Barstow, California
If you visit Las Vegas
Some tours and sightseeing
All the Classic Motels and Route 66 landmarks
Barstow and its Route 66 attractions
Route 66 Motels Galore
Barstow is the home to many famous Route 66 motels: the Cactus Motel,
the Town and Country Motel, the Travelodge and the
Sands Motel; the Sage Motel, the Skyview Motel,
La Siesta Motel and the Desert Inn; the Hillcrest Motel and
the Imperial 400 Motel, the Casa Loma Motel and The Torches Motel
the El Rancho Motel and the Site of the Beacon Tavern.
Don't miss the Village Café neon sign, Stardust Inn, Denny's Diner and Brant's Motel
Other attractions are the Skyline Drive In Theatre the signs at Tom's Certified Welding & Machine Shop and the The Calico Early Man Site, the Casa del Desierto Harvey House with two famous Museums: the Western America Railroad Museum and the Route 66 Mother Road Museum. Don't miss the Mojave River Valley Museum or the Desert Discovery Center.
Some Barstow Trivia:
Get your Kicks in Barstow
"Route Sixty-six": is a "classic" song that seared Route 66 in the minds of several generations as a wonderful Road Trip. A journey where you can get your kicks, a Carpe Diem on wheels, driving, living the moment and enjoyingthe freedom of riding the Mother Road.
The song was written in 1946 by Bobby Troup and has been a hit evoked by all those who have driven (or plan to do so) along Route 66.
Read More: Get your Kicks on Route 66, full details about the song.
Barstow is one of the two California towns mentioned in the song (along with San Bernardino). It is mentioned in the following stanza:
Now you go through Saint Looey
And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico,
Don't forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino.
The Route 66 Motels in Barstow
This is a east to west tour across Barstow, along Main Street (Route 66). Start at the eastern tip of town (at Yucca Ave.) and head west. To your right is the first motel:
Imperial 400 Motel
1281 E Main St.
You can Book a Room in this motel.
Now it is the Best Motel. The Imperial 400 was a motel chain founded in 1959 and its buildings had a characteristic "Gull Wing" shaped roof (like this motel has). It went broke in the mid 1960s and sold out to new owners.
Imperial 400 Motel in a vintage postcard
The building is basically the same: the canopy over the entrance has been removed with its 60's colored oval signs and the main sign has been toned down from a classic Route 66 sign to a more sedate variety yet it uses the same concrete foundation as the original one.
See the same theme at the Imperial Motel in Needles CA and in the Albuquerque NM Imperial 400 Motel, also on US 66
Imperial 400 Motel nowadays, it is Best Motel:
Astro Budget Motel
1271 E Main St. Barstow
The motel is still the Astro Budget Motel and it is next to the Imperial 400. The motel is from the early 1960s built with "modern" Space-Age sytle and part of the Astro Chain that covered California, Arizona, Utah and even Kansas.
There were several on Route 66, like the: Astro - Space Age Motel in Kingman, the Winslow Arizona Astro, another one in Pasadena - Now a Knights Inn) and one in San Bernardino - Astro Motel.
You can Book a Room in this motel.
Astro Motel 1960s postcard. Mojavegirl (click on image for large postcard)
Continue west. To your left is another Route 66 motel:
Town and Country Motel
1230 E Main St.
You can Book a Room in this motel.
The Town and Country Motel has changed a bit. Now it is the Econo Lodge. Below are a 1950s postcard and its current appearance. It is a pity that its awesome Motel Sign is no longer there.
Town and Country Motel in a vintage postcard
Town and Country Motel nowadays, it is an Econo Lodge:
Across the street is a classic motel
Vagabond Motor Hotel
1243 E Main Street, Barstow
The old Vagabond Motor Inn, later became the Thriftylodge and now is the Economy Inn Barstow, a 3 stars motel. The postcard pictured below announced: "67 luxury unit. Free TV. Room phones... Your midway stop between Los Angeles and Las Vegas".
You can Book a Room in the Economy Inn.
Vagagond Motor Hotel a vintage postcard
It has retained its original appearance, with the gabled roof over the main entrance and the lobby. This is a jewel from the late 1960s.
Economy Inn Motel nowadays, formerly the Vagabond:
Right beside the Economy Inn is a classic Diner:
1231 E Main St. Barstow,
Jenny's Mexican Grill Steak & Mariscos is a Mexican Restaurant set in the building of a former Denny's Diner. The old diner has a classic "Boomerang Roof" which is a design from the early 1960s by Armet & Davis. There are more Denny's on Route 66: the Denny’s Diner in Needles CA, the Denny’s Tucumcari Diner, the Kingman AZ Denny's Diner, one in Gallup NM and another in downtown Albuquerque (Whole Hog Cafe).
The current restaurant has kept the original diamond-shaped neon sign - compare the inset of a Denny's sign with Jenny's sign below:
Former Denny's diner:
Ahead, to your left is a classic since 1956: the Desert Inn:
Address: 1100 E Main St.
The 1950s postcard described it as " DESERT INN MOTEL BARSTOW, CALIFORNIA 1100 East Main Street; Phone 2146 On U. S. 66 at Eastern entrance; 150 miles from either Las Vegas, Needles, Los Angeles or Bakersfield. Opened 1956 with 97 units - singles to suites at reasonable rates. TV, Refrigerated air; excellent food & cocktail lounge adjoining.", and 60 years later it is still with us operating under ths same name. The old motel sign has been replaced and the roof has a Spanish tiles touch to it, but it is basically the same.
You can Book a Room in this motel.
The Skyview motel in a 1950s Postcard
On the north side of Route 66 (to your right) is former Hillcrest Motel:
1111 E Main St.
You can Book a Room in this motel.
The Hillcrest Motel is now the Budget Inn. At one time it had a one story building (See this older postcard). Below you can see what it looks like today, and also a 1970s postcard.
Hillcrest Motel in a vintage postcard
The original building is still there. Odly, the staircase leading up to the second floor of the front office has been moved from one tip of the building to the other. The color theme has changed (brown and rocks out, white paint in). There is less greenery and its Route 66 Motel sign is completely different (no longer a trapezoid with the word Hillcrest, crossed by a rectangle with the word Motel), once again a Route 66 sign has been lost.
Hillcrest Motel nowadays, it is a Budget Inn:
Continue westbound, and on your left you will see two classic Motels, the Sands Motel followed by the Cactus Motel:
924 E Main St
The Sands Motel is still operating under the same name.
Sands Motel in a vintage 1950s postcard
The hotel is basically intact and its original neon sign is still there as in the 1950s postcard, but with another color theme and it is lacking a part (the far side of the "Sands" section).
Sands Motel nowadays, it is Sands Motel:
Next to the Sands is The Cactus, another classic Route 66 Motel in Barstow:
916 E Main St.
The Cactus Motel is still the Cactus Motel, below is its current appearance and an old vintage postcard.
Cactus Motel in an early 1960s postcard
The postcard tells us that it was "A nicely furnished 13 unit motel. some fully equipped kitchenettes. TV. Individually controlled heat and air-conditioning. Restaurant and shopping center nearby". As the image shows, the original sign is still there and the building is unchanged.
Cactus Motel nowadays, it is still the Cactus Motel:
In front of the Cactus Motel, across Route 66 is another 1950s classic -sans its enormous motel sign-: Brants Motel:
921 E Main St.
The building is intact and the old Brant's is now the 66 Motel, its nice neon sign is gone though, below is a "Then & Now" set of photos:
The Skyview motel in a 1950s Postcard. www.66postcards.com
Stardust Motel neon sign. www.booking.com
901 East Main Street
The neon sign is fantastic as you can see in the photo.
You can Book a Room in the Stardust Inn motel.
Head west, and in the downtown district is a great Neon Sign:
201 E Main St.
Village Cafe Neon Sign. The upper photo is from a 1950s postcard, and below is its current street view.
The faded green neon sign is worth a photo. It stands on the front of the Village Cafá, and has done so for years, as you can see in the "Then and Now" sequence. It has the words "The Village, Hotel, Air Conditioned, Cafe, Chop Suey" written on it:
on the next block, to your left is the El Rancho Motel, a must-see motel:
El Rancho Motel
112 E Main St.
Cliff Chase built it in 1947 and is still in operation as a motel.
Railroad sleepers from the Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad -which at that time had been closed in nearby Ludlow- were used in the construction of the motel (See the railway ties or sleepers in the image).
It grew from 50 to 101 rooms but closed in 1979, reopening after being restored in 1987. Closed again in 1991, opening once again in 1994.
Railroad sleepers in the wall of El Rancho. Google. Click image for Street View.
Don't miss its spectacular Motel Sign (shown at the top of this page).
After the central part of town, on your left is a building that is almost 100 years old, Barstow Garage, on your left:
916 E Main St.
The Barstow Garage is now a New Life Fellowship church (New Life Fellowship is a Non-Denominational Christian churc), below you can see what it looks like now and an old vintage postcard of it from the 1920s, the caption reads "Main Street, Barstow, California". Notice the unpaved street and the cars.
Barstow Garage in a vintage postcard
Barstow Garage nowadays, it is New Life Fellowship:
The road begins to curve towards the south east and climb Beacon Hill, on your right is the Route 66 Motel followed by the Torches Motel
Route 66 Motel
195 W. Main St.
This motel is said to date from 1922; it is still open:
You can Book a Room in this motel.
The Torches Motel
201 W. Main St.
The old Hollon Motel is now the Torches Motel, open and welcoming guests on Route 66.
Hollon Motel in a 1940s postcard (now the Torches)
The Torches Motel nowadays, which used to be the Hollon Motel
The Torches Motel, Barstow, California. Highsmith, Carol M
Another late 1940s postcard says: " (U.S. 66) Barstow, Calif. Phone 2-236. New, modern hotel-type, air-cooled units, carpeted wall-to-wall. Tiled baths with tubs and showers. Hot water heat. One-half block to cafes, theatre and drug stores. Mr. and Mrs. Wm. V. Hollen, Managing Owners."
So we can deduce where its name came from (Hollen changed to Hollon). It was a member of the Best Western Hotels.
The Torches Motel "Route 66 sign"
The general layout and the office are the same, but the entrance facing Route 66 has gone, so have the steps and the stone wall facade has been whitewashed.
It does however have a very iconic Route 66 neon sign which was not the original one used in the 1940s as you can see in the postcard. This newer sign was probably (based on the style) erected in the early 1960s. The word "Motel", which is now horizontal, at one time was vertical.
Then comes the Plaza Hotel (formerly the Skyview), also to your right:
Skyview Motel - now Plaza Hotel
203 W Main St.
The old Skyview is now the Plaza Hotel, probably less colorfull, but still open. The sign is perhaps nicer now than it was then...
The Skyview motel in a 1950s Postcard
On the south (left) side of Route 66 is the old Sage Motel.
220 W Main St.
Another "unchanged" gem on Route 66, the sign is a newer one as you can see comparing the Vintage postcard below with its current appearance:
Sage Motel in a 1950s postcard
The Sage Motel, present appearance
551 W Main St. -GONE
The famous Tavern was located here (See map and a vintage postcard).
Richfield Oil Co. and the Highway Communities Inc. joined in 1928 to build a chain of hotels that included service stations and restaurants every 50 miles along the Western Coast from Mexico to California.
They would also have a tower 125 ft. high (38 m) , resembling an oil derrick with the name "Richfield" written on it in 10 foot letters. The tower would serve as a navigation aid for aeroplanes (no radar in those days).
Barstow's was the first and last complete unit to be buitl built, the Great Depression that began in 1929 brought the project to an end.
Located at the western side of the old commercial district, the Santa Fe railroad ran along its north flank and Route 66 on its southern side.
The USGS map of 1956 mentions a Radio-TV tower on its summit. The old Beacon Tavern was located here.
Beacons were built at Palm City, CA, El Centro, Visalia, Castaic and Los Angeles. The hotels were to be built in a Spanish Mission style and would be known as "Beacon Taverns".
Mount Shasta Richfield Beacon service station.
Barstow's Tavern had 50 rooms and opened on June 27, 1930. Over the years many Hollywood stars stayed here until I-15 was completed in 1957, making the stop at Barstow unnecessary. The Tavern was demolished in 1970. You can still see a surviving Richfield beacon on US 99 in Mount Shasta, California (See its street view) which we photographed in 2016, the image shows the tower and the old gas station beneath it.
La Siesta Motel
731 W Main St. (right side of Route 66)
Closed but the building is still there with a second floor on the first section. The following units are all on the ground floor. At one time it's postcards boasted: "LA SIESTA MOTEL Eight units, singles, doubles & suites all with tile baths, Beautyrest mattresses, Panel Ray heat, and all individually air-conditioned. Edna & Fred Andert, Managers. Phone 6901".
The La Siesta motel in a 1950s Postcard
Opposite, across US 66 is what appears to have been a motel (but we are not sure), currently Gianna's Court (720 W Main St.). Just ahead, on your left is another motel:
Casa Loma Motel
860 West Main St.
The Casa Loma Motel is now a Sunset Inn, below you can compare its current and past appearances:
You can Book a Room in this motel.
Casa Loma Motel in a 1940s postcard
The trees (Tamarisks?) have mostly gone, replaced by palm trees. The quaint cottage style units are still there though painted differently. But the place is relatively intact, of the three arch shaped windows on the far right with pink flowers under them, one survives.
Casa Loma Motel nowadays, it is Sunset Inn:
1261 W Main St.
You can Book a Room in this motel.
the Travelodge is now a Nites Inn Motel, below is its current appearance and a 1950s postcard.
Travelodge in a vintage postcard
The palm trees by the front office and the pool have grown taller, the color theme has changed and so has the sign, but the place is almost intact.
Travelodge nowadays, it is Nites Inn Motel:
Royal Inn Of Barstow
1350 W. Main St.
The old Royal Inn is still open as a motel, now it is the Americas Best Value Inn. Its postcard tells us the following: "Barstow's newest and most luxurious. Reasonable guaranteed rates. Central air conditioning. Color TV every room. Large heated swimming and therapy pools.....
Royal Inn, in a vintage postcard
The motel has the same layout and appearance, with a very 70s canopy over the main entrance:
Royal Inn nowadays, it is an Americas Best Value Motel:
A Longer Circuit around Barstow
A 9.5 mi. circuit visiting Barstow Harvey House and two of Barstow's Museums: the Western America Railroad Museum and Route 66 "Mother Road" Museum as well as Tom's Certified Welding & Machine Shop, the Skyline Drive In movie theatre, Mojave River Valley Museum and the Desert Discovery Center. See Map with directions.
Head north along North First Avenue and, after crossing the tracks, stop at the Barstow Harvey House to visit two of Barstow's museums: Route 66 "Mother Road" Museum and the Western America Railroad Museum.
Casa del Desierto Harvey House
685 North 1st Av. (Map showing Location)
Register of Historic Places and California Historical Landmark #892
The Barstow Harvey House was built at Barstow station in 1911; itis also known as the "Casa del Desierto" (Desert House) Hotel.
The Barstow Harvey House
The first AT&SF hotel built in 1885 burned down in 1908 and was replaced by this building that combines Spanish Renaissance and Classic Revival styles with pointed roofs on its corner towers.
The Santa Fe RR closed the station in 1975 and Barstow City acquired it in 1990, it also repaired it after being badly damaged by the 1992 earthquake. Currently many of the city's offices are located in the old hotel as well as two Barstow Museums.
Francis W. Wilson, the architect who designed it, also designed the Fray Marcos Hotel in Williams and the El Garces Hotel in Needles, all of them part of the Santa Fe Railroad.
Frederick Henry "Fred" Harvey (1835 - 1901) was a businessman who developed the concept of efficient and clean service for those travelling by rail. So he signed agreements with the main railroad companies and built lunch rooms, diners, restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops. They were the "Harvey Houses". The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway was one of the companies he served so his hotels can be seen across New Mexico right next to their tracks.
Museums at Harvey House: Railroad Museum and Route 66 Museum.
Western America Railroad Museum
On the East side of the Harvey House. 685 N 1st Ave, Barstow
The Western America Railroad Museum is a railroad museum located in Barstow, set in a real railroad depot.
It collects, preserves and displays the railroad history in the Pacific Southwest: uniforms, tools, railroad artifacts and rolling stock such as locomotives. Open 11 AM – 4 PM, Fri, Sat, Sun. Read more at the Railroad Museum website.
Route 66 "Mother Road" Museum
Designated a "Roadside Attraction" in 2003 by Hampton Inn Hotels
On the western side of the Harvey House. 681 N 1st Ave.
The Route 66 Mother Road Museum dates back to 2000, and it displays many historic photographs and artifacts (signs, shields, and collectibles) of Route 66 and its historic context, including pioneer wagon trails and the history of automobiles.
Read more at the Barstow Route 66 Museum website.
Continue your tour north
Keep on along N 1st St. take a left along Fort Irwin Rd. and then another left on Old Hwy 58. You will reach Tom's Certified Welding & Machine Shop:
Tom's Certified Welding & Machine Shop
28664 US Highway 58
This is a "must see sight" in Barstow if you are interested in old signs, here you have all sorts of signs, in all sizes and colors. Signs that bring back memories from a bygone era.
Some of the signs at Tom's
Retrace your steps, take a left on Ft. Irwin Rd. and a right along eastbound Old Hwy 58 until reaching an authentic drive in
Skyline Drive In
31175 Old Hwy 58
The Skyline Drive In, Google.
Although it is not a Route 66 period drive in movie theatre, it is a unique chance to see a film at an American drive in. It shows two different movies on its two screens 5 days a week with a digital technology.
Read more at the Skyline Drive In Facebook.
Keep eastbound along Old Hwy 58 and get on I-15 westbound at Exit 185, leave the interstate at the next exit (183) along Barstow Rd. take a left at E. Virginia way to visit the Mojave River Valley Museum:
Mojave River Valley Museum
270 E Virginia Way, Barstow. See map (2 blocks from I-15 Exit 183).
The Mojave River Valley Museum is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the scientific, historical and cultural heritage of the Mojave River Valley. Open daily 11 AM – 4 PM. Visit the Mojave River Valley Museum website.
Go back to Barstow Rd. and take a left, you will soon reach the Desert Discovery Center:
Desert Discovery Center
831 Barstow Rd, Barstow. See map (3 blocks from I-15 Exit 183).
This Museum in Barstow is a community education center of the Bureau of Land Management. It is a 7,000 sq.ft. facility surrounded by 12 acres of public land next to downtown Barstow. It promotes awareness of desert life through formal and informal programs which focus on the natural, historic and cultural aspects of the Mojave Desert.
The "Old Woman meteorite" is the largest meteorite found in California and the second largest in the US you can see it at the Desert Discovery Center. The Desert Discovery Center is open Tue - Sat 11 AM to 4 PM.
Keep northbound along Barstow Rd. to reach downtown Barstow, which is the End of your City Tour.
Tours & Itineraries
The Calico Early Man Site
Located north of I-15, east of Barstow (17 mi. of which 2 are dirt). (Map with Directions).
It is an archaeological site in a now dry lake (Lake Manix) from the Pleistocene that dried at the end of the last Ice Age when this region became a desert.
The site has evidence of the oldest stone tools found in America, they are around 200,000 years old and are controversial since the accepted date for the peopling of the New World is some 20,000 years ago and, 200,000 years ago modern Homo sapiens had not yet left Africa. The BLM closed the site in 2019 until further notice.
Calico Ghost Town
State Historical Landmark and "California's Silver Rush Ghost Town"
36600 Ghost Town Road, Yermo
It is 12 miles to the northwest, see this Map with directions.
The Mojave is an itermitent river that flows in a closed basin with an area of 4,580 sq. mi. (11.862 km2), its source is in the San Bernardino Mountains at almost 3,000 ft. altitude (900 m) and it discharges into Soda Lake, in the Mojave Desert.
110 mi long (177 km), its discharge varies from nil to a maximum of 70,600 cu. ft. (2.0000 m3). Most of its water flow is underground as the river bed is dry most of the year.
Father Garces named it Arroyo de los Mártires (Martyrs Creek) in 1776. When Jedediah Smith followed it westwards into California in 1826 he named it "Inconstant River".
The underwater course of the Mohave River was marked by vegetation growing next to it, and therefore was in sight of Route 66 and the SF Railroad all the way from Newberry to Victorville.
Established in 1881 it was restored by Walter Knott in 1951 and donated in 1966 to San Bernardino county.
This was the hub for 500 mines, including the famous mines: Odessa, Waterloo, Garfield, Maggie and Bismark among others, that produced $86 million in silver and $45 million in borax.
With the drop in silver prices in the mid-1890s the mines closed and the town disappeared. It is now a County Regional Park with shops, restaurants and camping facilities. Remember that the mines are off-limits and must not be approached for any reason!
The Silver mining town of Calico, CA
Visit the Calico Jail or Maggie Mine with the "Glory Hole" as well as the Calico-Odesssa Railroad. You can pan for gold or visit the replica of the 1880s schoolhouse.
Open daily 9 AM – 5 PM, except Christmas Day. Read more at the San Bernardino Co. Parks website.
The Alignment of Old Route 66 in Barstow
As mentioned above, the first road through Barstow was the National Old Trails (N.O.T.) road which was a highway that was projected to link New York and Los Angeles in the early 1910s. This road ran close to the Santa Fe Railroad between Victorville and Needles.
Ludlow to Newberry Springs
The road, from Ludlow to Newberry Springs originally headed west from Ludlow Cafe on the south side of what is now I-40 for 1.3 miles, after which it is now buried under I-40, continuing on the north side as the National Trails Hwy., you will have to head to the north of I-40 at Exit 50, take a left and go west.
At Lavic (8.5 mi.) the National Trails Highway crosses to the south side of I-40 and turns right (west) at Lavic Rd. it crosses to the south of the SF railroad (level crossing at 11 mi.) and runs beside the Lavic Lava Field, a black jumble of basalt to your left.
It keeps to the south of both railway and Interstate, all the way into Newberry Springs 31.6 miles from Ludlow.
From Newberry Springs to Daggett
1926 - 28 alignment
The road, from Newberry Springs to Daggett ran on the south side of the tracks of the Santa Fe Railroad up to Minneola, a small train stop. There it crossed to the north side of the tracks and went through Daggett along Santa Fe St., crossing to the south of the railway at the Dagget - Yermo Rd. and then turning west and heading straight towards Barstow.
US 66 was realigned to shorten it and make it safer so the two grade crossings were eliminated and the road kept a straight course west of Minneola, on the south side of the SF Railraod. Just west of that station, it passed through the California Agricultural Inspection Station. It bypassed the old commercial district in Daggett.
Marine Base at Nebo
West of Daggett, the road passes through a military facility so, you must take a detour at Nebo St., head south to I-40 (Exit 5) and head west to bypass it. Get off I-40 at Exit 2 and head west along E. Main St. in Barstow.
At Exit 2, follow E Main St. westwards and take a right at Montara Rd. passing under I-40 head north and then N.E. as East Main St. curves as it meets the SF tracks.
The road then crosses over I-15. Keep on Main Street all the way into downtown Barstow.
Map of US 66 from Newberry Springs to Daggett: 11.7 mi.
Read the description and see the map of US 66 from Needles to Essex (our Goffs Page, has even more details) and Essex to Amboy (east)
> > See the previous segment Newberry Springs to Daggett (east)
> > See the next segment Barstow to Victorville (west)
Accommodation Search box:
A Guide to the Golden State, by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration, Hastings House, New York, 1939.
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.