"Barstow~Harvey House, Route 66 & Trains" Top 5 Page for this destination Barstow by Yaqui

Barstow Travel Guide: 73 reviews and 195 photos

Wave at the trains, they waved back...yay!

Since I could drive, Barstow was a much needed to stop on the way to Vegas. Back then traffic was not bad at all if anything it was very few vehicles that ventured the 58 or 395 to get to Interstate 15. Now days, it’s practically bumper to bumper going to and from.

I hope Barstow has profited from the tourist passing through this very historical town and probably not really knowing what they are missing if they don’t now days. Route 66 brought many tourists this way and now many come to experience those past memories of a bygone era. Heck, I remember the funky tourist attractions of teepees, giant dinosaurs, and all those so called cheesy trinkets shops that lured many travelers along the way. I loved them and still do! My dad was a very fun, loving father who was my best friend too. He loved to explore, but when it came to getting us to our destination on a specific day, he was determined. Yet, my mother always took pity on our puppy dog frowns when something caught our eye along our yearly travels, she’d use the excuse we all need to make a Jane stop. Ha, my dad was sharp when it came to this tactics, but his reasoning would soften for making the stop. Of course by the time he did give in we were miles down the road and he had to turn around all awhile sounding like Ricky Ricardo….lol! We’d all scoot down on our seats giggling every time.

Barstow started as a rail road stop called Calico Junction along the Southern Pacific Railroad from Mojave to Daggett around 1880’s. Calico mountains brought many miners for a rich deposit of silver and borax. Twenty mules team were used to haul just the ore from Daggett to Calico. Around 1888 the town was named after the president William Barstow Strong not soon after the Santa Fe line arrived.

Unfortunately the silver mines were becoming a bust around 1896. Yet, borax was still lucrative in the millions well into 1902. While Calico and Daggett was become ghost towns, Barstow grew with having a very busy prosperous railhead. Then Route 66 also brought many travelers either from passing through or capturing those searching for promise of work and a home. Do any of you remember either reading the book or seeing the movie adaptation “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck? I do and they are both one of my favorites. It will remind you with some of the hardships the Oakies endured from the dust bowl era. My mom does because she grew up in Oklahoma during those difficult times. It has been said John Steinbeck stayed in Barstow a day while passing through writing this novel.

Harvey Girls

Barstow is home to one of the famed Harvey House that was rebuilt in 1911 after the original 1887 building burned down in 1902. It still stands along the rail road to the testament of a once bygone era providing passengers with rest, food, and company. They almost lost this building, but some frisky saviors saw fit to save her and she is truly a beautiful building. It is being lovingly restored and utilized by the city of Barstow and houses their chamber of commerce, Route 66 Museum and the Western America Railroad Museum.

Do you remember Judy Garland “The Harvey Girls”? I do and grew listening to all the greats of the musical era.

"On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe"

~Sung by Judy Garland~
~Music by Harry Warren~
~Lyrics by Johnny Mercer~

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Lots to do and see here.
  • Cons:Please check the weather and many homeless in the old downtown area, but kept to themselves.
  • In a nutshell:It is town filled with many layers of history.
  • Last visit to Barstow: Sep 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (25)

Comments (33)

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Jun 24, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    Love the memories you recount in your introduction about family car trips!!!! That is pure Americana and I love it! We also went through Barstow coming back from that San Diego to Las Vegas and back trip. Took a few photos but that's all we had time for -- sorry to have missed all this terrific stuff but some of the museums probably weren't around then. (BTW, isn't this near Hinkley?)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jun 3, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    Dee! /// Howdy and thanks a lot for your comprehensive and interesting page about Barstow!...

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Dec 2, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    Me too, I love Judy Garland musicals and the Harvey girls :D

    • Yaqui's Profile Photo
      Dec 2, 2012 at 7:07 AM

      Thank you for stopping by my Barstow page! It is dusty and barren, but a city with lots of great history!

  • lmkluque's Profile Photo
    Oct 23, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    I never made it to this part of Barstow. Thanks for the tour and interesting comments! Bet your dad wished he had given in to your mom sooner!LOL! Loved that story.

  • MD2nd's Profile Photo
    Jan 12, 2011 at 2:11 AM

    Very nice tip on Denny's, well, it is very nice at Denny's not just due to their wonderful retro design but their pan cakes too.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Nov 14, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    Fine tips on this interesting town. Yes, it's strange when things from your childhood are shown as antiques. In Düsseldorf there is a film museum with old 8 mm movie cameras and projectors just like the ones we used to have at home when I was a child.

  • johngayton's Profile Photo
    Sep 7, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    Hi and tx for the Hengelo visit - I love these out of the way places and in fact had a very fun night out here in Barstow a few years ago. More Hunter S Thompson than Stienbeck tho' ;))

  • msbrandysue's Profile Photo
    Jul 2, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    I love all the places you listed! Love it or hate it that McDonalds looks fun, especially with kids. Another awesome representation of California! Adore your pages :)

  • mvtouring's Profile Photo
    Mar 12, 2010 at 7:11 AM

    Very interesting place, I too miss the drive \-inn movies, they were fun ;-)

  • ranger49's Profile Photo
    Feb 22, 2010 at 8:16 AM

    Another fascinating page from history, Dee. And what memories it evokes -Steinbeck, Harvey Girls and more, Great stuff!


“~Happy Trails, Keep the Faith and Keep Dreaming!~”

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