MCLB Barstow Community
Barstow – Local Area
Barstow, “Gateway to the great mysterious desert,” has more to offer than meets the eye. Do not underestimate what this town has to offer. Everywhere there are surprises. Volcanic cinder cones, booming sand dunes, historic and modern mines, rock formations etched with messages from former residents, vast vistas framed with mile-high mountains and small towns dotted along historic Route 66.
This is the Mojave Desert. Natural beauty, an abundance of outdoor activities, historical sights, modern shopping centers, fine dining and a variety of accommodations are all here.
Overall, Barstow is a peaceful and tranquil town where you and your family can avoid the distractions and pressures of demanding city traffic and crowds, while exploring a dusty jewel of the high desert.
History and Orientation
A railway town since its founding, the city of Barstow, as of July 2011, has a population of 22,975, with a trade area encompassing more than 60,000 people (incorporating the communities of Barstow, Daggett, Ft. Irwin, Hinkley, Lenwood, Newberry Springs and Yermo). In 1888, the Santa Fe Railroad arrived in town and a splendid station was built in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Named after the president of the Santa Fe, William Barstow Strong, the town soon became a service center for the gold and silver mines that surrounded the community. Before all this feverish activity in the late 1800s, the Mojave Desert had been occupied by Native American tribes who (2,000 years ago) lived beside the immense lakes that covered most of the Mojave. Today, the landscape is bone dry, and Barstow is a highway town, at the junction of Interstate Highways 15 and 40, on the routes between Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Flagstaff. The railway station has been converted into a restaurant and shops.
Air, rail, truck, highway and bus systems make Barstow a complete California transportation center. Interstates 40 and 15 and State Highways 58 and 247 provide easy access by car to surrounding cities in Southern California including Los Angeles, San Diego, and other popular coastal cities as well as to the neighboring states: Arizona, Nevada and Utah.
While there are no major commercial airports in Barstow, Ontario International Airport (77 miles southwest), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) (131 miles) and Las Vegas (157 miles) all schedule passenger and freight services. Barstow-Daggett Airport and Southern California International Airport Adelanto (30 miles southwest) also offer these services.
The rail facilities of both Santa Fe and Union Pacific provide the utmost in rail service to the shipper. Both Amtrak and Greyhound Bus offer passenger service to and from Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
For local transportation services, Laidlaw Transit Service/Dial-a-ride provides its fixed-route transit system services by bus to and in the Barstow area.
After you and your family are situated, it is recommended that you familiarize yourselves with your local community government, such as the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce: (760) 256-8617 or (888) 4-BARSTOW; 681 North 1st Ave., P.O. Box 698, Barstow, CA 92312; www.barstowchamber.com, as well as other information centers (i.e., DMV (800) 777-0133, Earthquake Hotline (800) 852-2960, etc.) Do not hesitate to take advantage of what these organizations/resources have to offer, as they are especially familiar with assisting and educating newcomers like you to their area.
The Barstow City Hall has five departments: City Council, City Manager, City Clerk/Records, City Treasurer, Planning Commission, and Youth Advisory Council. Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre is the current elected mayor. She and other elected officials can be contacted at Barstow City Hall: 220 E. Mountain View St., Suite A, (760) 256-3531.
Barstow has providers of most services and utilities including cable television by Time Warner and local telephone service by Verizon. For a list of service providers and their contact information, please visit the Barstow Chamber of Commerce www.barstowchamber.com.
The Department of Motor Vehicles provides vehicle registration, driver’s license, and ID card services to the Barstow community and is located at 528 E. Virginia Way.
Barstow has an area labor force of 12,500. Ft. Irwin and the Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) are the largest with more than 10,200 workers, between the two alone—nearly half including civilians and private contractors. Construction, trades, utilities, transportation and grocery employees are generally unionized.
The Bureau of Land Management-Barstow is the public’s resource for information, management and assistance on the use of public land in the Mojave Desert and other public land areas. Its mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.
The Barstow Field region covers an area from the northern boundary of Joshua Tree National Park to the southern boundary of Fort Irwin Military Reservation and from the eastern boundary of San Bernardino National Forest to north of Death Valley Junction, Calif., as far as the California/Nevada state line.
The main phone number is the Barstow Field Office: (760) 252-6000, Fax (760) 252-6098.
The Desert Dispatch serves Barstow and other surrounding communities as the main newspaper publication. Four radio stations, one regional TV station, one TV cable system, and one TV translator also provide Barstow with other specialized means of media communications. The Highway Stations (KHWY-FM 98.1 and 99.7) and Highway Country (FM 107, 101.5 and 101.1) cover more than 40,000 square miles of the Mojave Desert area. They bring travelers of the Interstate 15 and 40 highways continuous news, traffic and weather updates as well as provide hours of a variety of music favorites for travelers’ listening pleasure. The Highway Stations also feature The Las Vegas Connection where Las Vegas-bound tourists can get information on current and upcoming events.
Prices and Rentals
Rentals for one- and two-bedroom apartments and townhomes range from $575 to $750 per month. Rentals for two- and three-bedroom homes range from $550 to $1,350. There are 14 mobile home parks and space rentals range from $175 to $230 per month. Low-income housing is also available through the San Bernardino County Housing Authority.
Barstow Community Hospital (BCH) is a 30-bed acute care hospital, with over 250 employees. Owned by the City of Barstow and operated by Community Health Systems Inc., the hospital provides quality comprehensive health care services, both inpatient and outpatient, to the surrounding High Desert community. It also offers some of the latest technologies including a nuclear medicine department, CAT scan, mammography imaging, a fluoroscopy room and more.
Public education is provided by the Barstow Unified School District which has eight elementary schools, one junior high school, one high school, one continuation high school, an independent study program, and an adult education school. It also has two private schools and a community college (Barstow College).
Barstow College offers educational opportunities from transfer level courses leading to an advanced degree to community service classes (or workshops) designed for continuing education, vocational enhancement, avocation or personal development pursuits.
The Barstow College campus is located on Barstow Road overlooking the city, the Mojave River, and the Calico Mountains. The campus is an attractive green oasis in the desert with a variety of palm, cypress, oak and olive trees that form an ideal setting for student learning. Some facilities available on the campus are a large gymnasium (James R. Parks), a childcare facility (Child Care America), a comfortable meeting hall (the Norman Smith Center) and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
At $36 per unit, the cost of attending Barstow College is relatively inexpensive. Non-residents pay $176 per unit, in addition to the $36 per unit enrollment fee. They also offer a Neighborhood Policy (Nevada reciprocal arrangement): $42 per unit $36 per unit enrollment fee.
Contact a campus counselor to see how you can take advantage of the various services offered, take required assessment tests, attend a new student orientation, and obtain all information necessary for registration. Call (760) 252-2411 or visit their website at www.barstow.edu.
Museums and Historical Points of Interest
CALIFORNIA WELCOME CENTER
Located in the Tanger Outlet Center, the California Welcome Center houses an interactive Desert Tortoise Display as part of its Mojave Desert wildlife and history museum. There are also a gem and mineral display, a children’s indoor playground, and a gift shop that offers books in several languages. The center provides free local, regional and statewide visitor information. The center is open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. For information, call (760) 253-4782.
ROUTE 66 MUSEUM/MOTHER ROAD MUSEUM
Main Street in Barstow is the only remaining section of Historic Route 66 to still be designated “Main Street.” The Mother Road Museum in Barstow houses pieces of a bygone era within the renovated walls of the Harvey House on North First Avenue. The Route 66 museum features a 1926 Dodge Touring Sedan as part of its collection, the first telephone switchboard used on Barstow’s Main Street, model trains and historic photographs and other trinkets of the era. Also on display are two vintage motorcycles, including a 1947 Harley-Davidson police trike, an old gas pump, model trains, historic photographs, and postcards from around the area. There are plans for a room dedicated to the movement of Hispanic settlers on Route 66. For information, call (760) 255-1890.
THE HARVEY HOUSE
Casa Del Desierto Harvey House was completed in 1911 and restored in 1996. This beautiful building is now on the national registry of historic places. New to the Harvey House is the Western America Railroad Museum. Railroad memorabilia, old locomotives, photos and archives are available for public viewing. There are also two cabooses open for tours. The museum has many different types of exhibits including railroad china, watches and maps. For information, call (760) 256-WARM.
MOJAVE RIVER VALLEY MUSEUM
The museum is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the heritage of the past and present for the people of the Mojave River Valley. Housed here are collections of artifacts and information dealing with the history of the area from early man, through the accomplishments of space exploration (NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space communications Complex – Ft. Irwin, Calif.). It houses gemstone and mineral displays that represent just a portion of the wealth still found in the Mojave Desert. Free admission. Please call (760) 256-5452 for information.
AUGUSTAN SOCIETY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM
The Augustan Society Inc. is a non-profit public benefit educational corporation located in the Villa Augusti. The library collections include heraldry, U.S. colonial genealogy, Native American cultures and art, Hispanic genealogical research and more. The main building features the imaginatively created private study of Howard Carter, the discoverer of King Tut’s tomb; suits of armor, and a book and gift shop. Visits are by appointment only. For information and reservations, call (760) 254-9223.
Clubs and Organizations
There are more than 20 different clubs and organizations that meet each month and hold even more events, which you and your family can participate in, throughout the year. Some are for the elderly, retired military and families of military, hobbyists, artists, business people, etc., including the American Business Women’s Association, Art Guild, Kiwanis, Toastmasters and NAACP, just to name a few. Barstow also offers more than 20 different places of worship and religious meetings.
Shopping and Dining
Barstow offers an extensive brand-name selection even for the most finicky of shoppers. Wal-Mart and Food4Less stores bring you bargain shopping as well as a great selection. Alternatively, you can stroll through a generous number of antique shops to complement your outlet shopping experience in downtown.
The Barstow Station, a shopping complex cleverly made up of railroad cars, has already been mentioned as being a favorite stopover for travelers and tourists. It offers travel services including Las Vegas reservations, a lottery center, dining and gift shops. It is also the home of the FM 98 and 99 studios. For information, call (760) 256-8282.
Located five miles from downtown Barstow, Factory Merchants Outlet Mall offers 21 factory direct outlets that include the Pac Sun, Shoe Pavilion, Big Dogs, Izod, and much more. Call (760) 253-7342 for more information.
At the Tanger Outlet Center, you can find the best selection of authentic brand-name merchandise at an average of 40 to 70 percent off retail, in 40 attractive and convenient brand-name outlets, such Polo, Coach, Loft and Reebok. Call (760) 253-4813 for more information.
The city of Yermo has a population of nearly 2,000 and two community parks—Wayside Park and Smith Park. The Union Pacific railway runs parallel to Yermo Road, the main drag of the town. Off of Marine Road, in Yermo, is the Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow Yermo Annex.
CALICO GHOST TOWN
1881 marked the beginning of one of the largest silver strikes in California history and the birth of Calico. This authentic silver mining town, which lies in the colorful hills of the Calico Mountains just 10 minutes north of Barstow, lives on as one of the few original mining camps of the Old West. Today, you can visit this famous ghost town where silver dominated the town and the U.S. Borax Co. brought its 20-mule team to town on a regular basis.
Spend a day exploring the various mercantile stores that reflect the time of a bygone era. Some of these shops include blacksmiths, glassworks, general stores and more. Reflect on the time of a bygone era while participating in the guided underground Maggie Silver Mine Tour, gold panning, cowboy action shooting range, and much more. After a long day of activities, your family can dine at one of the mining day theme restaurants such as Lil’s Saloon or the Old Miner’s Cafe. Extend your stay at one of the 253 campsites (includes full hookups), six cabins, or a large bunkhouse, all tucked away in a secluded canyon. Located just 10 minutes north of Barstow, call (800) TO-CALICO or (760) 254-2122 for more information.
Calico Annual Events Calendar
February: Calico Civil War (Presidents’ Day weekend)
May: Calico’s Annual Spring Festival and Cook-off (Mothers Day weekend)
October: Calico Days (Columbus Day weekend) Calico Ghost Haunt (Halloween weekend)
November: Calico Heritage Fest (Thanksgiving weekend)
December: Christmas in Calico.
PEGGY SUE’S ’50S DINER
“Eat to the beat” Peggy Sue’s is an original ’50s roadside diner. Built in 1954, it was expanded and restored to its original charm in 1987. Shadowed by the Calico Mountains, it houses an extensive collection of movie and TV memorabilia. Dine here for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Enjoy great homemade chili and soups, a pizza parlor, soda fountain, ice cream parlor or old-fashioned candy—all to old-time ’50s music. Peggy Sue’s also features a Five and Dime store, an arcade and Paradise Park with cool lagoons and sparkling waterfalls surrounded by shady trees.
Daggett is a small town in the Mojave Desert, located approximately eight miles east of Barstow on Interstate 40. Those using Route 66 easily overlook it, and yet the “Mother Road” passes right through the town. Daggett is the “parent” community of the Mojave Valley. For nearly 40 years, Daggett was the hub of the Mojave Desert. As the outfitting point for mines in Death Valley, the Calicos, Vanderbilt and dozens of other locations, it was the recognized commercial center.
Today the town is home to a modern airport, solar generating plants, agriculture, light industry and is at the junction of two major railroad lines.
Daggett Museum opened in September 1991. The museum consists of more than 40 cases displaying early American collectibles, railroad china, Navajo Indian code-talker artifacts from World War II, barbed wire, lapidary work, and much more, including a unique model of the Solar I generating plant. Daggett is an historical setting in its own right. Founded in the 1860s, 15 to 20 years before the filing of Waterman’s claim, the town was once called Calico Junction. It was renamed in the spring of 1883 to honor John Daggett, lieutenant governor of California from 1882 to ’86. Special arrangements for different times and/or group visits can be made by calling (760) 254-2629, and leaving a message.
SAFETY AND PRECAUTIONS
Before setting foot on any outdoor adventures, visit the local ranger stations (contact the Bureau of Land Management) or other desert information resource establishments and get familiarized with the unique qualities and habits of the vast variety of plants and animals in the High Desert. This information can dispel common myths and misunderstandings, help avoid dangerous situations or encounters, yet allow one to appreciate what the desert has to offer. Also, before removing or altering archeological finds, be aware of the rules set forth by the Bureau of Land Management.
Though not always visible, wildlife is abundant across the Mojave Desert. There are over 300 different species of animals, including desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyotes, and desert tortoises. A variety of birds live in the desert as well.
Golden eagles and several species of hawks can be seen soaring on the desert thermals. Gambel’s quail, chukar and mourning doves, as well as many other small species of birds live in the canyons and washes where they are able to find water, food and vegetation for cover.
There are several species lurking in the Mojave National Preserve and in the surrounding areas like the Desert Rosy Boa, a cousin to the South American constrictor, which grows to be only two or three feet in length. The easy-going Gopher Snake grows large, up to six feet in length, but rarely bites. Most dangerous are the Mojave Rattlesnake and the Desert Sidewinder, both of which are poisonous. Not to worry though, snakes and other formidable creatures typically remain in hiding far from human life during the day and only come out in the evening to hunt for rodents, insects and other small creatures.
Desert plants are especially adapted to living in this arid climate. Common plants include yucca, creosote, and the Joshua tree. The spring brings a colorful and abundant array of blossoms when the winter rains have watered the desert.
Full-service hookup sites as well as rugged minimalist campsites are easily accessible from Barstow.
Off-Highway Vehicle Areas
Off-highway vehicle (OHV) riding is one of the major recreational activities in Southern California. Public lands available for OHV use are designated as either “Limited Use” areas or “Open” areas. Vehicles are required to remain on designated routes of travel within all of the “Limited Use” areas. “Open” areas are contained within a formal OHV boundary and permit cross-country travel. Some popular areas include: Stoddard Valley, Rasor, Dumont Dunes and more.
Points of Interest
The geological treasures waiting to be discovered throughout the Mojave desert-preserved landscape include: precious minerals and stones, petrified wood, prehistoric artifacts and more. Today, a visit to Black Canyon and Opal Mountain offers an opportunity to view nearly 10,000 petroglyphs and pictographs.
MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE
The 1.4 million acres between Interstate 5 and I-40 in southeastern California were designated by Congress as a national preserve in 1994 to protect the prehistoric, historic and natural resources found in the region. Elevations range from near sea level north of Baker, Calif., to over 6,000 feet in the Ord Mountains south of Barstow, and the terrain ranges from mountains to sand dunes. Indian rock art includes petroglyphs more than 10,000 years old and evidence of more recent human activity, particularly mining and cattle ranching, remains as well.
RAINBOW BASIN NATURAL
Fossils and minerals are contained in the rock walls, formed by millions of years of geological activity and displaying an array of colors. A driving tour is available for vehicles under 25 feet in length. Camping is permitted for a fee at Owl Canyon Campground.
EARLY MAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
More than 12,000 stone tools dating back perhaps 200,000 years have been located in an excavation begun in 1964 by Dr. Louis Leakey. It is one of the oldest sites of prehistoric tools in the Western Hemisphere. Examples of excavated tools can be seen in the visitor center. Guided tours are available. Open Wednesday through Sunday. Closed holidays.
Donations are accepted.