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The Goffs Railway Depot RT 66

Mojave Desert Archives Library

"Tonight we can raise our glasses and reflect on this achievement - then brace ourselves for the tasks that lie ahead," said Dennis Casebier. Early that day, May 18, 2005, the Mojave Desert Heritage & Cultural Association was awarded a $499,500 grant for construction of a library within a to-be-restored railway depot at Goffs, CA. Out of 276 applications only thirteen were funded.

Funds from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment will support the construction of the Mojave Desert Archives, a research library designed to preserve and present the collections of the MDHCA. The library will be built on the grounds of the 75 acre Goffs Cultural Center and in the image of the historic Goffs Railway Depot (1902-1956). The objective of the Mojave Desert Archives project is to build a repository to process, protect, and make available to our community a unique, extensive and ever-increasing volume of gathered materials pertaining to Mojave Desert history.

On the 25th of September 2008, construction of the the Mojave Desert Archives Library was completed. The dedication ceremony took place on Saturday, October 11, 2008. The Library is a replica of the historic Goffs Santa Fe Railway Depot (1902-1956).

goffs train station
goffs train station inside

The Mojave Desert Archives is the largest single collection of historical materials covering the American history of the Mojave Desert - a history rich in the stories of western migration and pioneering spirit. This unique collection of archival materials, formed by renowned desert historian Dennis Casebier over the last fifty years, consists of more than 6,000 volumes of published works, tens of thousands of pages of news clip files, 50,000 historical photographs, 4,500 maps of the region dating from earliest times, 2,000 loose subject files pertaining to individuals of interest and specific cultural sites, 700 oral histories, an extensive collection of old area newspapers, periodicals and pamphlets, and materials culled from federal records in the National Archives.

The mission of the Mojave Desert Heritage & Cultural Association is to research and conserve the natural and cultural history of the Mojave Desert region for the purpose of preserving and sharing these resources in perpetuity. We will accomplish this through the operation of a research center, library, and archives, restoration of significant structures, conservation of historic open space, interpretation of backcountry trails, and production of educational guidebooks and historical publications in concert with government agencies and people of good faith everywhere.

Goffs was created in 1883 as a siding at the "Top of the Hill" 30 miles west of Needles. In 1893 a short line, originally called the "Nevada Southern Railway", but later termed the "California Eastern Railway," and still later referred to as the "Searchlight branch of the Santa Fe," was constructed north of Goffs. Consequently Goffs became more than a siding and a place to turn engines that helped trains up from Needles. Soon more and more traffic into the central part of the East Mojave flowed through Goffs. Goffs took on the role of a main entry point into the East Mojave -- a role that continues today. Also, with discoveries of rich mines in Searchlight, Goffs and the shortline railroad that led north out of Goffs, became a way station on the supply and communications route to Searchlight. It was in 1907 that the rails of the shortline were extended to Searchlight -- the only place where Santa Fe rails ever penetrated the State of Nevada.

By 1911 Santa Fe had concentrated at Goffs a sufficient number of employees with families to justify a school. In the fall, classes commenced at Goffs in a rented building. In 1914 the present structure was built on an acre donated by a homesteader. For East Mojave Desert schools it was unique in design (mission style) and construction (wood frame and stucco over steel mesh). It was larger than most schools in isolated desert areas. The 800 square-foot class room was sufficient for dances, church services, and community affairs of all kinds. There was another room that housed the library used for the school and for the community, and a smaller cloak room. There were two large covered porches. In all, the building embraced 2,000 square feet.

The Association began raising money to restore the old Schoolhouse -- to put it back the way it looked and felt in 1914. By the spring of 1998 the Association was ready to move ahead. Dennis & Jo Ann Casebier donated the Schoolhouse and the one-acre Schoolyard to the Association in a ceremony presided over by San Bernardino County Supervisor Kathy Davis. That same day (June 20, 1998) a contract was signed with Elegant Custom Homes contractors of Kingman, Arizona, to restore the Schoolhouse completely. That effort was finished in late 1998.

More on the Goff's School house.

Some books on the area that may be of interest.

Mojave Road Guide by Dennis Casebier
Keeper of the Caves
- Mitchell Caverns
Gold Road to La Paz - The Bradshaw Trail


 


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