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Kelso Depot Reopening Page 3

Kelso Depot Grand Reopening

Kelso, California
March 25, 2006
Story and photographs copyright 2006 by Richard Elgenson

Inside views of the depot and museum installations are shown here.  The ground floor is mostly dedicated to Native American culture, local geography, topography and nature.  The National Park Service has done an outstanding job restoring the depot and filling it with interesting installatons.


Back at the depot, Ranger Nichols pointed out a Gypsum point spear point he found dating back about 6000 years.  It is in the lower left photograph on the extreme left.  The National Park Service logo is a spear point with a snow covered mountain peak, a tree, and a buffalo.


A cultural determinant between native Americans was the manufacture of basketry versus pottery.  The Chemehueve manufactured basketry which does not last.  Pottery made by the Mojave has been found in the area.  One nice specimen (below left) had been removed from the desert and then recently returned to the depot as part of a display.  The Kelso Dunes were surveyed in 1962 and between that time and 1972, many artifacts were taken and/or  desecrated illegally.  Metate and manos (below right), basically a milling stone system were taken. 


Below, murals describe the native animals.


Upstairs contains more modern American history, the railroad and its workings.  There are system maps of both the Union Pacific Railroad and the Santa Fe Railway.  Union Pacific even advertised to lure people to the Grand Canyon even though their rails were not very close.  Second row down on right shows how the builders of the railroad through the desert made the grade from Primm Nevada to the top of Cima grade and then downhill to Kelso.



Lower left is information about European "discovery" of the Mojave area.  In late 1857, Lt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale, USN, led the U.S. Camel Corps into the Mojave Desert for army freight and road building work.  This experiment lasted until 1866.  At its peak, the Kelso area had 2,000 residents working the railroad and supporting the WWII effort.  The main influx was miners to work the Kaiser Vulcan Mine.  The ore mined here with lots of extra sulphur was converted to steel for use in WWII Liberty merchant ships.  After the war, the mine was closed.


Below left shows different types of ore and tools used for mining ranging from a basic pick to drill head.  Below right shows Kelso at its peak.


Several rooms had been restored as dormitory rooms for railroad employees.


Kelso Depot Page 4