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Union Pacific Railroad Depot, Intersection of Kelbaker & Kelso Cima Roads, Kelso, San Bernardino County, CA

Union Pacific Railroad Depot, Intersection of Kelbaker & Kelso Cima Roads, Kelso, San Bernardino County, CA

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Significance: Construction of the railway line between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, via Las Vegas, began in 1901 with the formation of the San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad Company by prominent Senator William Andrews Clark. In 1902 half of the railroad's stock was acquired by the Union Pacific Railroad, which was looking for an outlet to the California coast from its terminus in Ogden, Utah. The line opened for business on 1 May 1905. In 1926 the company shortened its name to the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. In 1921 the Union Pacific RR bought the remainder of the railroad's stock from Senator Clark, although it continued to use the LA & SL RR name until 1988. The settlement at Kelso began in April 1904 as a tent camp for the railroad construction crew, known as Siding No. 16. By 1906 several warehouses, an engine house, a lunch room with attached sleeping quarters, and a small wood frame depot had been constructed. The settlement was renamed Kelso after one of the camp's warehousemen. Kelso became an important railroad town both because of its location as a "helper station" where trains could take on an additional locomotive for climbing the Cima Grade to the east, as well as because local wells provided a reliable source of water for refueling steam locomotives. In 1922 fire destroyed the Keso lunchroom. The Union Pacific RR, already in the process of upgrading its facilities along the line, decided to build a new and much larger depot at Kelso. The new building, designed by the Office of the Chief Engineer of the LA & SL RR in Los Angeles and labeled "Club House and Restaurant" on the original construction drawings, was to contain dining facilities for passengers (on trains without dining cars) and railroad employees, rooms for the dining room staff, and hotel rooms and recreational facilities for railroad employees, in addition to regular depot facilities such as baggage handling. The depot was designed in the Spanish Colonial Mission Revival style, which had been selected by the Union Pacific RR as the thematic style for its buildings along the route between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Construction began in 1923 and the building was opened on 2 March 1924. ... With the end of the war, however, Kelso began a steady decline to its present near-ghost town status. The Vulcan Mine closed in 1949. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Union Pacific RR replaced all of its steam locomotives with diesel locomotives, thus eliminating the need to stop at Kelso to take on water. The inclusion of diner cars on all of its trains likewise eliminated the need for meal stops for passengers. Helper service at Kelso was ended in 1959. In 1964 the depot functions at Kelso were terminated. The Union Pacific RR continued to operate the building as a hotel and restaurant for employees until 30 June 1965, when, after 61 years of service, the depot was closed for good. Threatened with demolition after its closure, the depot became the focus of the preservation efforts of a coalition of concerned local citizens. In 1992 the building was purchased by the Bureau of Land Management, as part of the East Mojave National Scenic Area. In 1994 jurisdiction was transferred to the National Park Service, and the Union Pacific RR Depot at Kelso became the architectural centerpiece of the newly-created Mojave National Preserve.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N273
Survey number: HABS CA-2679



Historic American Buildings Survey, creator




Library of Congress

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No known restrictions on images made by the U.S. Government; images copied from other sources may be restricted. http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/res/114_habs.html

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