Friday, February 22, 2019

RonnieAdventure #0348 - Harvey House, Barstow, California

In 1911 Fred Harvey opened Casa Del Desierto ("House of the Desert") in Barstow, which was considered to be one of the jewels of his "Harvey Houses" for passengers on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. Dining was gourmet cuisine, served on fine china, and drinks were in crystal glasses. "Harvey Girls" worked in the dinning rooms and were paid $18.50 per month, plus room and board, which was considered to be a "generous income" for the time. The girls had to be single, educated, well-mannered, and were subject to a 10 PM curfew that was strictly enforced by a house mother. Dresses were heavily starched black-and-white uniforms with a length that could be no more than 8 inches from the floor. Makeup of any sort was strictly prohibited. It has been said that Harvey Girls "civilized the American Southwest." Will Rogers once said: "In the early days the travelers fed on buffalo. For doing so, the buffalo got his picture on the nickel. Well, Fred Harvey should have his picture on one side of the dime, and one of his waitresses with her arms full of delicious ham and eggs on the other side, 'cause they have kept the west supplied with food and wives."

Photographer Unknown
In addition to an Amtrak train station, Casa Del Desierto is now used for government and city offices, Barstow Chamber of Commerce, two museums, and a NASA display that includes information on the Goldstone Deep Space Network Antennas. 

The Goldstone Antennas are located in a restricted area on the 1,859-acre Marine Corps Logistics Base outside of Barstow, so no public access is available. I do not know what is going on at the base, but lately there really seems to be an increase in activities that can be noted from the Freeway when I drive by. Maybe their deep space antennas have picked up something from outer space and they are now getting ready for a close encounter of the third kind.

One of the NASA exhibits features our Solar System and contains some interesting information on the Sun and planets. The pictures, except the Sun, were taken with the Hubble Telescope.

Solar System
- Our solar system is about 4.6 billion years old and is located in the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy.
- There are billions of other solar systems in out galaxy and billions of galaxies in the universe.
- The four planets closest to the Sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) are called terrestrial planets because they have solid, rocky surfaces.
- Jupiter and Saturn are "gas giants" and Uranus and Neptune are "ice giants."

- The Sun does not have a solid surface, but is a ball of gas with approximately 72% hydrogen, 28% helium, and 2% metals held together by its own gravity.
- Since the Sun is not a solid body, different parts of the Sun rotate at different rates. At the equator, the Sun spins about once every 25 Earth-days, but at its poles the Sun rotates about once every 36 Earth-days.
- The temperature at the Sun's core is about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius.)
- It takes light from the Sun 8.3 minutes to reach the Earth.

- One day on Mercury is 176 Earth-days and a Mercury year is 87.97 Earth-days, so a Mercury-day is almost twice as long as a Mercury-year.
- Temperatures on Mercury vary from -290 degrees Fahrenheit to + 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mercury does not have any moons.

 - Venus is one of only two planets in the solar system that rotates clockwise.
 - One Venus day is 114.75 Earth-days long and a Venus year is 225 Earth-days. Since there are only two days in a year, if you lived on Venus it would be hard to forget your wife's birthday. Even if you had to guess, you would have a 50-50 chance of being right. 

- Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old, has only one moon, and is the fifth largest planet in the solar system.
- If the Sun was the size of a typical house door, proportionally, Earth would be about the size of a nickel.
 - About 70% of the Earth's surface is covered with water

- Mars is known as the "Red Planet" because the iron materials in the soil have oxidized (rusted).
- Mars has the tallest mountain in the solar system. Olympus Mons is about 15 miles high, or about three times the height of Mount Everest (the highest mountain on Earth).
- Mars only has 2 moons - Phobos and Deimos.
 - A Mars day is about 24 Earth-Hours and a Mars year is about 687 Earth-days.

- Jupiter is a "gas giant" with a mass 318 times larger than Earth. It is the largest planet in the solar system.
- If the Sun was the size of a typical house door, proportionally, Jupiter would be about the size of a basketball.
- Jupiter has 50 confirmed moons and 17 moons awaiting conformation.
- The rotation of Jupiter is the fastest of any planet in the solar system. A Jupiter day is about 10 Earth-hours long and a Jupiter year is about 12 Earth-years.
- Jupiter's giant red spot is the size of 2 Earths. The spot is a storm that has lasted for over 300 Earth-years

- Saturn is a "gas giant" and and does not have a solid surface. The planet is so light it could float on water.
- Saturn has 53 known moons and 9 additional moons awaiting confirmation of their discovery.
- Saturn has seven rings that are composed of billions of pieces of rock and dust, the largest being about the size of a house.
 - A Saturn day is 10.7 Earth-hours long and a Saturn year is about 29 Earth-years

- Uranus is an "ice giant" and does not have a solid surface.
- If the Sun was the size of a typical house door, proportionally, Uranus would be about the size of a baseball.
- Uranus has 27 confirmed moons and the moons are all named after characters from works by William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope.
- Uranus is tipped 98 degrees, so it is described as "rolling around the Sun on its axis."
- Uranus has a retrograde rotation (clockwise)
- A  Uranus day is 17 Earth-hours long and a Uranus year is about 84 Earth-years

- Neptune, like Uranus, is an "ice giant" and does not have a solid surface.
- The planet's blue color is caused by the absorption of red light by methane in the atmosphere.
- Neptune is the fourth largest planet (by diameter) in the solar system.
- Neptune has 13 confirmed moons with others awaiting conformation..
- A Neptune day is 14 Earth-hours long and a Neptune year is 164.8 Earth-years

- Pluto is smaller than Earth's moon. It is so small that South America would not even fit on Pluto's surface. If the Sun was the size of a typical house door, proportionally, Pluto would be about the size of the head of a pin.
- Pluto's moon Charon is more than half the size of the planet Pluto.
- The color of Pluto is reddish-brown and its thin atmosphere contains traces of methane, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide.
- Like Uranus, Pluto rotates on its side because its axis is tilted 120 degrees, so one-fourth of its surface is in continuous daylight and one-forth of its surface is in continuous darkness.
- One day on Pluto is equal to 6.39 days on Earth

Also located at Casa Del Desierto are the The Mother Road Museum (Route 66 Museum) and the Western American Railroad Museum. 

As you drive down Route 66 in your Model T Ford, you never know who you will meet. Okay, so they are only cardboard figures! However, I remember as a kid we could never understand why the "singing cowboys" (e.g.; Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, etc.) always wore their pants tucked into their boots, when real cowboys like John Wayne would never consider wearing his pants tucked into his boots. If you were out working in the fields, and your pants were tucked into your boots, how could you keep all of the dirt, hay, etc. from falling into your boots? Maybe the "singing cowboys" were only pretending to be real cowboys!

If you can not find a vehicle to drive down Route 66, you might try riding a velocipede down the adjacent railroad track; but it is a lot more work!

The Al Gustafson Date Nail collection is also located in the Western American Railroad Museum. Gustafson was born in Vesteros, Sweden, but his parents immigrated to the United States when he was only eighteen months old. When Gustafson was 38 years old he moved to Barstow and went to work for the Santa Fe Railroad. During his lifetime he and his wife traveled all over the world collecting railroad date nails and pole nails. His collection is considered to be one of the largest displayed collections in the World.  

There is an outdoor collection of railroad trains and equipment and it is also possible to walk across the road bridge that spans the railroad tracks just west of Casa Del Desierto to view trains as they pass under the bridge. There are also several sidings where numerous train cars are parked. 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

RonnieAdventure #0347 - Barstow, California

I drive through Barstow at 70 miles-per-hour on Interstate-15 quite often, but seldom get off of the freeway to visit the old downtown section. Since I had a little extra time, I pulled off of the Interstate at the "Old Highway 58" exit and followed it a short distance to "Historic Route 66," also known as "The Main Street of America," or "The Mother Road," or just "Main Street" as it runs through Barstow.

Okay, this is a short quiz. Along Main Street there are pictures of some of the most iconic vehicles of the 50s and 60s that traveled The Mother Road. How many vehicles can you name?

The person that did the '57 chevy should be fired because the picture is the wrong body style. The iconic '57 Chevy was a Bel Air 2-door hardtop (not a 2-door post) with a 283 cubic-inch engine and four-barrel carburetor that was part of the power-pack option. The engine had the shortest stroke of any production V-8 engine at the time and with the air cleaner design and dual exhaust system it produced a unique sound that could be recognized all over town without ever seeing the vehicle. And, the vehicle pictured does not even have production wheels or white-wall tires! 

There were no signs to describe the vehicles, but I think they are: 1969 Pontiac GTO, 1965 Ford Mustang, 1955 Ford F100, 1957 Ford Thunderbird, 1969 Oldsmobile 442, 1958 Chevrolet Corvette, and 1957 Chevrolet 2-door post. So, how did you do on the quiz?

A number of businesses have also added Route 66 related statues on their property, but I'm not certain what the monkey ridding a pink elephant represents!

Barstow (population 22,639) was founded by prospectors in the 1840s along what became known as the "Mormon Trail."  (The "Old Spanish Trail" was not just a single trail, but was actually a series of different trails that ran from Santa Fe (New Mexico) to Los Angeles (California), and it was the northern trail that ran through Salt Lake City that became known as the "Mormon Trail," or "Mormon Road." To add to the name confusion, the '49ers called the route the "California Trail.") In 1848, the Daniel Davis family that was traveling in a covered wagon with the Mormon Battalion was the first American family to travel the route. Then, in 1851, an entire wagon train of Mormon pioneers settled in the San Bernardino Valley. 

Because of Indian attacks along the trial, in 1860 Camp Cady was established east of Barstow and was an active Army post until 1871. (I actually found the old fort site, which will be included in a future RonnieAdventure.) During this same time period, gold and silver were discovered in the area and there was a large influx of miners into Camp Sugarloaf (now Barstow), Calico (now a commercial tourist attraction) and Daggett (now a near ghost town). 

Camp Sugarloaf, also know as "Grapevine," became Waterman Junction in 1885; named after Governor Waterman, who also owned the nearby Waterman Mine and mill. The "Junction" refereed to the junction of the California Southern Railroad and the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad lines. (Today Barstow is the "junction" of Interstate-15 and Interstate-40.) However, the Waterman Junction name was short-lived. On May 15, 1886, a post office was established and the town's name was changed to Barstow, honoring William Barstow Strong, the Executor of the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. 

Barstow is also the site of an interesting experiment. When General Beal was surveying a wagon road from New Mexico to California, the government imported camels to see if it would be feasible to use camels, rather than horses and mules, in the southwest desert regions of the United States. Not being familiar with the camel culture, and not wanting to be embarrassed as a person seen riding a camel, the government could not find camel drivers; so they had to import drivers along with the camels. The camels turned out to be a great success. They could carry 700 pounds of cargo and could go for three days without water. The camel's feet adapted to the rocky-sandy desert soils and they performed well both in the summer heat and the chilly winter nights. However, when the civil war started, the project was cancelled and never restarted. The camels were turned loose to wander the desert and did not reproduce, so they eventually all died off. There are still unconfirmed tales of people seeing camels in the desert and there are many ghost stories involving desert camels. 

With the arrival of the railroads, passengers needed places to eat and sleep; so Fred Harvey is credited with establishing the first restaurant/hotel chain in the United States, which became known as "Harvey Houses." Casa del Desierto (House of the Desert) was constructed in 1911 in Barstow and was considered to be one of the finest establishments in the entire chain of properties. The young ladies that worked in the restaurants became known as "Harvey Girls."

The old downtown section of Barstow contains numerous murals depicting local history painted on the outside of local business establishments. Most of the murals also contain a narrative of the local history depicted. 

One of the longest murals is on the wall outside of the Route 66 Motel. Also around the motel's property are various old cars (1950s Studebaker, 1930s Dodge touring car, 1957 Dodge, and Nash Metropolitan) and other historic items. 

Also located around town is a nice memorial for the 343 fire fighters that were killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attack, the oldest operating Del Taco in the World, and McDonald's Station that is a conglomerate of restaurants and retail tourist facilities. (Note: The first Del Taco was in Yermo; but it closed, making the Barstow Del Taco the oldest operating Del Taco in the World. Corporate headquarters refers to the Barstow Del Taco as Del Taco #1.)

And, not to be missed, on the way out of town on Old Highway 58 is the collection of unusual vehicles and an iron framed dinosaur located just west of the drive-in movie theater.

On the way home I stopped by EddieWorld in Yermo to get something to eat, only to discover that they did not have a fast-food restaurant; so I had to continue on to Baker. (The EddieWorld water tank is designed and painted like a large ice cream desert.) Baker is a major tourist stop along Interstate-15 and has all of the major fast-food restaurants, plus some unknown ones. They have also repaired the "World's Tallest Thermometer" and it now looks like it did historically.