Thursday, April 28, 2016

Historical Harvey House Center, 4/22/2016

We stayed in Barstow, CA, as a midway point between Desert Hot Springs and Sequoia/King's Canyon National Parks. Our primary points of interest were the Rainbow Basin Natural Area and the Mojave National Preserve here, but we always love to check out the local museums in the towns we visit. 

The Historical Harvey House Center is home to two museums (Route 66 Mother Road Museum and Western Railroad Museum), the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau (in the space that was once the hotel and dining rooms of the Harvey House), and is the Barstow Amtrak and bus station. 

The Harvey House was built in 1911 (closed in 1971) and is a part of the legendary history of western rail travel. Fred Harvey operated a network of hotels with the Santa Fe Railway famous for high quality meal services and a new standard in traveler accommodations. We had dinner at El Tovar when we visited the Grand Canyon National Park last year that was also one of the Harvey hotels/restaurants. This location was called "Casa Del Desierto" and is of Spanish-Moorish architecture.

The building has been restored with the lobby and several rooms open to the public. A display about Fred Harvey and the famous "Harvey Girls" can be seen in a hallway off of the lobby.

Multiple freight and passenger trains pass through here daily. Barstow is about halfway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. 

The Route 66 Mother Road Museum is dedicated to preserving, educating, and promoting Route 66. This is about 2,500 miles long beginning in Chicago, IL; ending at the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, CA; and runs right through Barstow, CA. The famous road was replaced by the Interstate System in 1985. There are lots of interesting historic artifacts, photographs and exhibits about the glory days of Route 66 here. Check out the jukebox (playing Blueberry Hill), Harley Davidson, and 1964 convertible Mustang...all classics!

The Railroad Museum has exhibits of artifacts of the era as well as a diver array of railroad engines, cabooses, and other rail cars outside. 

There are no admissions fees here. If you are in Barstow, this is a nice stop that provides some interesting local town history. For additional information about the Harvey house here, check out their website. Note that the museums are only open Friday-Sunday

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