Imagine yourself sipping a beverage on the vestibule of a vintage passenger rail car. Or sitting in a restored dome car watching the desert roll by as you climb the stark, Joshua Tree-studded Cajon Pass from Union Station in Los Angeles to Barstow, Calif.
ARONCO Leasing Co. in conjunction with Western America Rail Museum, Barstow Chamber of Commerce and the Barstow-Kelso Rail Association will operate a special train from LA to Barstow Oct. 16 and 17 in conjunction with WARM’s Railfest 2010 celebration. In addition to the initial run to Barstow, a secondary trip to Kelso Depot in the Mojave National Preserve, is planned for Oct. 17.
Amtrak’s Desert Wind, which ran from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, was discontinued in May 1997. This will be the first time in many years a public passenger train has made the trip over Union Pacific rail lines through spectacular Afton Canyon. Bighorn sheep naturalist Bob Burke will point out the highlights of the area as the train passes through the “Grand Canyon of the Mojave.”
The Barstow Flyer will leave Los Angeles Union station at 8:45 a.m. Oct. 16 and will stop for passengers at Fullerton’s Amtrak station, leaving there at 9:20 a.m. and San Bernardino at 10:30 a.m.
The train will climb 3,600 feet to the top of Cajon Pass and passengers may see other rail operations on the main tracks through the Cajon. The “Flyer” is scheduled to arrive at Barstow at 12:30 p.m.
Turning on the “balloon track” in the BNSF rail yard, the train will back into the Harvey House Depot. Passengers will detrain on the platform and be furnished a special box lunch. They will be able to tour the Western America Railroad Museum, the Route 66 Mother Road Museum and the Harvey House.
The unique passenger train will leave Barstow on Oct. 17, heading east to the restored Kelso Depot, the Mojave National Preserve’s Visitor Center. After passing through Afton Canyon at about 10:15 a.m., the train is scheduled to arrive in Kelso at 11:15. Lunch is planned and passengers can wander through the depot at their leisure.
The train will depart Kelso around 1:00 p.m. for the return trip to Barstow and Los Angeles.
For this trip, two Amtrak diesel locomotives will pull two Amtrak coaches and four or more private railroad cars including Tioga Pass, a meticulously restored former Canadian National Railway executive business car.
Passengers may board and detrain at Los Angeles, Fullerton, or San Bernardino. Reservations and ticketing will be handled by Archer Travel Service of Glendale, Calif. Please call Gary Herod at (818) 236-4208 for reservations.
For more information call Norm at (760) 953-9620 or see www.RideMyTrain.com.
- For more railroad stories and photos, click here.
- Read more about Kelso Depot here:
- Read about the San Diego and Arizona “Impossible Railroad.”
- Read about the Grand Canyon Railway.