This is the second of two parts to the story of the historic Vegas X Train route. For part 1 see our post dated February 3, 2013.
As the Vegas X Train proceeds to Cajon Summit at 3,777 feet the railroad curves around through the High Desert and Hesperia, Victorville, Oro Grande, and Hodge, leading into Barstow. Barstow has an interesting history in the area of silver mining, borax mining, and water resources to support the start of the region. Barstow was named after William Barstow Strong the President of the Santa Fe Railway when it was established in 1888. Barstow became an important rail junction point for Southern and Northern California, east to Texas, Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago, and northeast to Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. Today you will pass by BNSF Railway’s Barstow Classification Yard an important process yard for shipments and maintenance of locomotives and cars. The Barstow area is home to Fort Irwin, the US Army’s Desert Warfare Training Center. As you move east out of Barstow you will come to Daggett where the route will transition northeast through Yermo, home of the Marine’s Logistics Base.
The Vegas X Train just north of Yermo starts moving eastward away from Interstate 15 out in the desert towards Afton Canyon and Cucero on the lowest point of this portion of the trip for the climb through Kelso to the summit of Cima Hill. Kelso is located in the Mojave National Preserve and was named after a railroad worker who won a contest to have the town named after him. Kelso was an important stop to water steam locomotives and feed the people on the train at the station in town. Kelso boomed in the 1940’s as Borax and Iron Ore mines opened and soon gold and silver were discovered too. Up and over Cima Hill the X Train starts the downhill journey and joins back up with Interstate 15 around Roach and parallels all the way into Las Vegas to the X Train’s Las Vegas station. Las Vegas was founded in 1905 and grew supporting the mining in the area, transformed with the building of Hoover Dam, and in 1931 the first casino opened for business. Since then the transformation has been amazing as an international entertainment and gaming center and is home to 1.9 million people. Welcome to Las Vegas, we’re glad you’re here!