Train service to Kelso restored

Old time Raven Jake readers might recall that about 2 1/2 years ago we made a 3-day trip through the Mojave. Well, that’s all well and good, but when this came across the digital desk, Jane just about fell outta her chair and now she’s fixin’ to cover it for her magazine, The Insider.

This is, for the first time in about 10 years a train is goin’ from L.A. to Barstow to Kelso, a beautiful trip and the best part is, with all this new investment in infrastructure, this won’t cost much a’tall: tracks already there. Train already exists. Just gotta open that line, and if everything goes well, David Lamfrom, California Desert Program Manager National Parks Conservation Association, thinks daily service might become an option again. And Barstow’s Chamber of Commerce is right behind it.

Kelso’s a great little spot and if you can meet that train – or better yet, get on it – bet you’ll be in for a treat. Here’s the fine print:

After more than a decade, Group’s Hope Ride is first step in reconnecting visitors to the history and beauty of the Mojave.

BARSTOW, CA—The history of the California Desert and the western United States is deeply connected to the railroad, but with the advent of the automobile, it is also something few experience in these modern times. A key desert passenger rail route, Amtrak’s Desert Wind, connecting Barstow’s historic Harvey House and Mojave National Preserve’s Kelso Depot last ran in 1997.

That will change next month, when service resumes on Sunday, October 17, 2010. “Bringing the Barstow-to-Kelso railroad back to life can help strengthen Barstow’s economy while connecting visitors to the history and beauty of the Mojave,” said Jeri Justus, executive director of the Barstow Chamber of Commerce.

Renowned for its scenic views, this route across the desert passes through Afton Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Mojave, and an immense sand dune system known as the Devil’s Playground. Bringing passenger rail service back to the Mojave is the result of a multiple year effort by the Barstow-to-Kelso Railroad Committee, a local organization headed by two former mayors; area business leaders; the National Parks Conservation Association, the Barstow Chamber of Commerce, and the Mojave National Preserve.

“The opportunity to experience the Mojave National Preserve via passenger rail honors the history of the desert and the spirit of the communities that are so uniquely linked to this beautiful land,” said David Lamfrom, California Desert program manager with the National Parks Conservation Association.

A weekend of events celebrating the return to service of this historic route can be accessed via existing lines in the Los Angeles metro area and the inland empire on Saturday, October 16, 2010. Passengers can depart from Los Angeles’ Union Station that morning with stops in Fullerton and San Bernardino prior to arriving in Barstow for the annual Rail Fest celebration. The following day, Sunday, October 17, 2010, the train will depart from Barstow’s Harvey House for the scenic two-hour ride to the Kelso Depot.

Local guides will highlight the history and geology along the route and passengers can enjoy the Mojave National Preserve on foot prior to reboarding the train for service to Barstow and continuing return service to Union Station in Los Angeles. This ride, is open to the public and tickets can be purchased for the full ride or for stops along the way. Snacks, beverages, and meals are included.

To purchase tickets or for more information contact the Barstow Chamber of Commerce at 760.256.8617, visit http://www.ridemytrain.com/view_entry.php?id=96 .

Additional Information can also be found at: Mojave National Preserve Kelso Depot Visitor Center Barstow Road Barstow, CA 760.252.6100 http://www.nps.gov/moja/

There you have it, and check back in – we otta have some pictures up by the end of the weekend.

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~ by ravenjake on October 14, 2010.

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