Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Kelso in San Bernardino County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Kelso Depot

 
 
Kelso: Why here? panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 21, 2015
1. Kelso: Why here? panel
Captions: (left) Built around 1923, this five-stall roundhouse was demolished in 1948 as diesel locomotives, requiring less maintenance, replaced steam. It was located across the tracks, beyond the last house.; (circle) A helper steam locomotive pushes a freight train up the 2.2% grade to the Cima Summit, 19 miles east of here.; (bottom right) Boiler-makers, mechanics, hostlers, and water tenders all worked at the roundhouse.
Inscription. Several panels outline the history of the Kelso Depot

Kelso: Why here?
The railroad town of Kelso arose because of the steepness of the grade beyond and the abundance of groundwater below.

The Cima Grade was too long and steep for locomotives to pull a train up without assistance. “Helper engines” provided the extra power. These engines required a “helper station,” including a roundhouse, a wye track for turning around, fuel, and plenty of water for making steam.

Fortunately, a reliable source of water was nearby - first from springs in the Providence Mountains (visible beyond the tracks), and later from nine water wells.

Kelsoís population crashed after World War II, due to reduced rail traffic and the increased use of powerful new diesel engines that didnít require servicing in Kelso.

Depot Days: Past and Present
Built in 1924, the Kelso Depot housed a train station, ticket and telegraph office, restaurant, reading room, and dormitory rooms for railroad employees. It was often called the Kelso Club, a Union Pacific term for employee boarding and recreational facilities.

As railroad technology improved and further personnel were needed, the Depot became obsolete. It was closed
Depot Days: Past and Present panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 21, 2015
2. Depot Days: Past and Present panel
Captions: (top) Kelso Depot in 1924. The huge date palm trees on the lawn are all that remain of the original landscaping. In this photo you can see them as new plantings.; (bottom left) The original Kelso Depot. Built in 1905, this building was moved eastward along the tracks in 1923 to make way for the existing Kelso Depot.; (bottom right) Many remember the Kelso Depot as being white with green trim. During the renovation, it was returned to its original paint colors.
in 1985, and Union Pacific planned to raze the building. Concerned citizens intervened and the building was saved. It was renovated and reopened as a National Park Service Visitor Center in October, 2005.

World War II Boomtown
During World War II, troops, tanks, and trucks were shipped through Kelso by rail, creating the need for more helper crews and mechanics. Iron ore from Kaiser Steelís nearby Vulcan Mine was loaded onto freight cars here to be used in the wartime manufacture of steel.

To accommodate workers and their families, both Union Pacific Railroad and Kaiser Steel set up temporary housing at Kelso.
Kelso Jail
From the mid-1940s to 1985, this two-cell strap-steel jail was used to confine drunks and other unruly individuals for a night or two. The jailís original location was west of the Kelso Depot on the far side of Kelbaker Road; the jailís cement pad foundation can still be found their.

The jail was removed from Kelso in 1985, the same year that Union Pacific closed the Kelso Depot. It ended up in the backyard of Ron and Kay Mahoney in Barstow, California. Two decades later, Kay Mahoney donated it to the National Park Service when Kelso Depot reopened as a visitor center in 2005.

Richard Klepper grew up in Kelso, and remembers when the jail first arrived around
World War II Boomtown panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 21, 2015
3. World War II Boomtown panel
Captions: (top) Portable houses lined the tracks in Kelso, 1944. Kelso Depot is on the right, concealed by trees.; (bottom left) Lester Packard at his store. After Packard died in 1941, his family leased the store and two adjacent houses to a series of other shopkeepers. The family still owns the building, across the street from Kelso Depot.; (bottom right) The Grissom family leased the Packard store and houses during World War II. Maude Grissom and a friend are in front of the house east of the store, which later burned down.
1944: Before that, the constable used a reefer car for a jailÖ In those days Kelso was loaded with drunks from both theÖ (Vulcan) Mine and Union Pacific.
 
Erected by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
 
Location. 35° 0.731′ N, 115° 39.172′ W. Marker is in Kelso, California, in San Bernardino County. Marker is on Kelso Cima Road near Kelbaker Road, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 90942 Kelso Cima Road, Baker CA 92309, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Kelso Jail (within shouting distance of this marker); Pozos de San Juan de Dios (was approx. 10.9 miles away but has been reported missing. ); The Mojave Road (approx. 14 miles away).
 
More about this marker. The Kelso Depot is located in the Mojave National Preserve.
 
Also see . . .  Kelso Depot - National Park Service. Originally, the restaurant and telegraph office each had three shifts, operating around the clock. This continued through the boom years of the 1940s, when Kaiserís Vulcan mine caused Kelsoís population to grow to nearly 2,000. The
Kelso Jail panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 21, 2015
4. Kelso Jail panel
Captions: (bottom left) During World War , employees of nearby Vulcan Iron Ore Mine lived in rows of trailers on the north side of the tracks.; (right) A corrugated-tin shack was built around the open jail to protect prisoners for the sun and rain. Prisoners rarely spent mort than one night in the jail.
closing of the mine coupled with diesel engines replacing steam resulted in the UP moving jobs and families out of Kelso. (Submitted on January 31, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
 
Categories. Roads & VehiclesWar, World II
 
Kelso Depot Markers image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 21, 2015
5. Kelso Depot Markers
Kelso Depot image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 21, 2015
6. Kelso Depot
Kelso Depot image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 21, 2015
7. Kelso Depot
Diorama of Kelso during World War II image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 21, 2015
8. Diorama of Kelso during World War II
Diorama of Kelso during World War II image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 21, 2015
9. Diorama of Kelso during World War II
Kelso Jail panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 21, 2015
10. Kelso Jail panel
Kelso Jaill image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 21, 2015
11. Kelso Jaill
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 31, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 258 times since then and 60 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on January 31, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
Paid Advertisement