"All roads lead to Barstow" certainly is an appropriate citation when referring to this old historic Route 66 town that is way out in the middle of the Mojave Desert. This spot near the Mojave River was a fruitful native farming and hunting ground for many centuries. For this reason, many of the ancient Mojave Trails go directly to this location. Mormon pioneers later found this area to be a sustainable oasis in the vast desolate desert and soon the settlement turned into a key junction for all those going further west.
Because of the prospecting and the wide variety of mineral mining in this region, Barstow was a natural choice for a railway stop in the late 1800s. Since the earliest western highways followed the railway lines, the National Trails Highway ran through this town shortly after the first horseless carriages hit the market. When this long dirt road highway was improved, the name was changed to Route 66 and the age of modern western automobile tourism began. Barstow was definitely going along for the ride and this town soon became one of the most famous Route 66 destinations in the west!
The Route 66 culture in Barstow thrived for several decades, especially during the golden years after WWII. Many timeless Mother Road landmarks were established back in those days and fortunately, some of these old classic Route 66 businesses have been preserved in modern times. In fact, there actually is a famous restaurant that has been serving some of the best Mexican food in the west to Route 66 tourists since 1954! Cruising the Route 66 strip in Barstow at sunset when the old neon lights start to flicker is definitely a superb time warp to experience.
Barstow is a time capsule of the past and this town suffered the same fate as the rest when old Route 66 was bypassed by Interstate Highway 40. Because of the local industrial scene, the local Route 66 culture never completely disappeared. Interstate Highway 15 was also routed through Barstow and the old 1800s steam engine railway stop evolved into one of the largest freight line centers in the west. Barstow is now a major trucking and rail freight industry center primarily because of its location, which all began with the ancient Mojave Trails. Nostalgia buffs now keep the Mother Road spirit alive in Barstow and as can be seen, the Route 66 pride sure does run thick in this old west town!
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