"Kelso~Not the end of the line:)" Kelso by Yaqui

Kelso Travel Guide: 9 reviews and 51 photos

In August 1900, Utah Senator William A. Clark, a wealthy mine owner, bought a small railway in Los Angeles. With this purchase, he then started construction on what would become the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad. In 1902, UP made a deal with Clark and purchased half the stock of the railroad before it was even completed.

Construction of the line, known as the Salt Lake Route, began at the two ends near Salt Lake and Los Angeles and spread across the Mojave Desert in between. By 1905, the route had grown to nearly 235 track miles and reached Siding #16. The site gained its present name when two warehousemen put their names into a hat along with that of a third worker, John Kelso. They drew out a name and Siding #16 was renamed “Kelso.”

By the end of 1905, the track stretched from the west coast port of San Pedro to Salt Lake City, giving UP access to markets in southern California. Later, UP persuaded Senator Clark to sell his stock in the Salt Lake Route, giving UP full ownership of the line.

The first depot at Kelso opened in 1905, followed a few months later by a post office, an engine house, and an “eating house” to serve railroad employees and passengers on trains without dining cars. Over time, the town grew as more workers were needed and their families moved to Kelso to join them.

Railroad civil engineers in Los Angeles drew up plans in 1923, labeling the drawing “Kelso Club House & Restaurant.” For UP, a “Club House” was a company rooming and boarding house with recreational facilities (in later years the building was commonly called the Kelso Depot). The building would have a conductor’s room, tele- graph office, baggage room, dormitory rooms for staff, boarding rooms for railroad crewmen, a billiard room, library, and locker room. Construction started in 1923 and the depot opened in 1924.

Originally, the restaurant (sometimes called “The Beanery”) and telegraph office were operated around the clock. This continued through the boom years of the 1940s and ‘50s, when Kaiser’s Vulcan mine contributed to Kelso’s growth. In those years the population grew to nearly 2,000. When the mine closed, and diesel engines replaced steam, jobs and families moved away from Kelso. The depot function ended in 1962, although the restaurant and boarding rooms remained in use. In 1985, with a dwindling need for crew members to eat or stay overnight, UP decided to close the Kelso Depot.

With the passage of the California Desert Protection Act of 1994, the East Mojave National Scenic Area became Mojave National Preserve, and the Depot passed into the hands of the National Park Service. Renovation began in 2002. Kelso Depot reopened to the public as the primary visitor center for Mojave National Preserve in October 2005.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Stark desert beauty~
  • Cons:No services other than a restroom & food, no gas
  • In a nutshell:History is staying alive~
  • Last visit to Kelso: Dec 2010
  • Intro Updated Jan 8, 2012
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Reviews (9)

Comments (6)

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Mar 26, 2012 at 3:41 AM

    Jail entrance is free. Is it also "Get out of Jail Free" ??? hehe!

  • hopang's Profile Photo
    Mar 19, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Wonderful travel page. Kelso museum, depot and visitor center certainly look and sound interesting to visit and explore. Thanks for your lovely virtual tour. Thanks also for visiting our Portugal travel page. ~ho & pang

  • ncfg's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    Very nice page! I like the jail ;-)

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Feb 17, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    Another little slice of American preserved!! Very interesting to see the smalls pieces of American history come back to life. Nice job!!

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Feb 4, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    Those prison cells don't look like a place where anyone want to spend even a night! Having a cup of coffee at The Beanery looks inviting though.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Feb 3, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    Another blast from the past! Good that the Depot and the Beanery have been restored and reopened.

Yaqui

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

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