Skip to main content

Throwback Thursday; Kelbaker Road, Kelso Depot, and the Mojave National Preserve

Back in 2012 I spent a considerable amount of time exploring the Mojave National Preserve located in northern San Bernadino County, California.  Of particular note was Kelbaker Road which leads traffic from Historic US Route 66 northward through the derelict reaches of the Mojave Desert to I-15/California State Route 127 in Baker. 






Kelbaker Road essentially serves as the main park road for the National Park Service through the Mojave National Preserve.  The grade from US 66 north to Kelso is relatively new having popped up sometime in the late 1970s/early 1980s according to historicaerials.com.  The asphalt quality section of Kelbaker Road south of Kelso is decent but far from the best, at minimum it is paved which is often more than can be expected in the Mojave.



Kelbaker Road has a junction with the Kelso Dunes a couple miles south of Kelso.  The Kelso Dunes cover an area of 45 square miles with dunes rising as high 650 feet above the desert floor.  The Kelso Dunes consist of minerals blown in from the nearby San Bernadino Mountains.  It is thought that the sands were blown in as a result of Soda Lake and Silver Lake drying up into large playas.





Just south of Kelso the alignment of Kelbaker Road junctions the Vulcan Mine Road.  The Vulcan Mine was a major steel mine in the desert which opened in the 1940s.  The section of Kelbaker Road north to Kelso was originally part of the Vulcan Mine Road which was built up to a road to US 66.





Kelso is located on the Union Pacific Railroad was once siding of the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad opening in 1905.  Kelso was a major siding and stopping place on the SPLA&SL due to its proximity to the high grades of Cima Hill in addition to being a general mid-way point through the desert.  Kelso Depot which now serves as National Park Visitor Center was opened in 1923.  The SPLA&SL was annexed into the Union Pacific by 1921 and Kelso Depot was operated 1985.  Kelso Depot was purchased by the Bureau of Land Management in 1992 and the property was turned over to the National Park Service in 2002.













Kelso remained viable past the era of Steam Locomotives due to the Kaiser Vulcan Mine.  During the peak of mining operations Kelso grew to a population of approximately 2,000 residents.  By the late 1980s after the closure of Kelso Depot the community of Kelso was essentially a ghost town.  More information regarding Kelso can be found on NPS.gov.

NPS.gov on Kelso Depot

The National Park Service has a display showing what Kelso looked like in it's prime.




There are various ruins throughout Kelso which include an almost intact Post Office building.



Kelso serves as the halfway point between Amboy and Baker.  There seems to have been a very early desert route from Baker southeast to Kelso which appears on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of San Bernardino County.

1935 California Division of Highways Map of San Bernadino County

The current alignment of Kelbaker Road north of Kelso appears some time on topographical maps between 1972 and 1983.  The northern segment of Kelbaker Road is extremely worn out with lots of large pot holes.  The asphalt has a unique red hue which sometimes appears on roadways in the Mojave Desert due to the mixture quarried for asphalt. 

Kelbaker Road essentially serves as a southward extension of CA 127.  Kelbaker Road is actually signed as a major destination on the CA 127 exit from I-15 which includes signage for the Mojave Preserve.  The Mojave National Preserve in 1994 out of the previously BLM managed East Mojave Scenic Area.




 





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ghost Town Tuesday; Vineland, Florida; the town killed by Disney

Vineland is a small ghost town located in southwest Orange County, Florida near the junction of Florida State Road 535 and Interstate 4.  Vineland is somewhat unique due to it largely being squeezed out of existence by Lake Buena Vista which is the company town where Disney World is located. Vineland was founded in the late 1800s as Englewood.  The town name of Englewood changed to Orange Center in 1911 before finally assuming the name Vineland in 1924.  Much like the rest of Orange County the community of Vineland was centered around Citrus Grove.  In the case of Vineland said orange groves were centered around Ruby Lake. The end of Vineland came as the Disney Corporation began purchasing parcels of citrus grove land to build Lake Buena Vista.  Vineland fell into a sharp decline in the 1960s but the community managed to continue to exist to modern times.  Much of the street grid of Vineland still exists east of FL 535 but most of the original structures are either gone or falle

Old NY 10 and Goodman Mountain in the Adirondacks

  Old highway alignments come in all shapes and sizes, as well as taking some different forms after their lifespan of serving cars and trucks has ended. In the case of an old alignment of what was NY 10 south of Tupper Lake, New York, part of the old road was turned into part of a hiking trail to go up Goodman Mountain. At one time, the road passed by Goodman Mountain to the east, or Litchfield Mountain as it was known at the time. As the years passed, sometime around 1960, the part of NY 10 north of Speculator became part of NY 30, and remains that way today from Speculator, past Indian Lake and Tupper Lake and up to the Canadian Border. At one time, the highway was realigned to pass the Goodman Mountain to the west, leaving this stretch of road to be mostly forgotten and to be reclaimed by nature. During the summer of 2014, a 1.6 mile long hiking trail was approved the Adirondack Park Agency to be constructed to the summit of the 2,176 foot high Goodman Mountain. For the first 0.9 mi

Oregon State Highway 58

  Also known as the Willamette Highway No. 18, the route of Oregon State Highway 58 (OR 58) stretches some 86 miles between US 97 north of Chemult and I-5 just outside of Eugene, Oregon. A main route between the Willamette Valley region of Oregon with Central Oregon and Crater Lake National Park, the highway follows the Middle Fork Willamette River and Salt Creek for much of its route as it makes its way to and across the Cascades, cresting at 5,138 feet above sea level at Willamette Pass. That is a gain of over 4,500 in elevation from where the highway begins at I-5. The upper reaches of OR 58 are dominated by the principal pinnacle that can sometimes be seen from the highway, Diamond Peak, and three nearby lakes, Crescent, Odell and Waldo (Oregon's second largest lake). OR 58 is chock full of rivers, creeks, mountain views, hot springs and waterfalls within a short distance from the highway. OR 58 was numbered as such by the Oregon State Highway Department in 1940. OR 58 is a del