BARSTOW • The Barstow Harvey House — once a hub of activity for passengers of cross-country trains taking a break from their travels — was once again bustling with train-related activity for a weekend as railroad buffs came to Barstow for Rail and Craft Fest 2010 on Saturday and Sunday.
Model railroaders had their set-ups on display, retired rail cars were open for tours, and an actual train of vintage cars — full of passengers — pulled into the station to complete the scene.
Mark Goodman of Huntington Beach was watching over a model railroad set-up inside the Harvey House on Saturday afternoon. He said that working with model trains "keeps him out of the bars."
"Everyone gets something different out of it," said Goodman. "It's relaxing, and it gives a person who isn't very good at art a creative outlet. It's fun."
Most of the large model set-ups in the Harvey house were comprised of different "modules" that model railroading enthusiasts who don't have warehouses to work in bring to rail shows to assemble into room-size layouts.
Goodman said he comes to Rail and Craft Fest at Barstow every year.
"This is a good historical location," said Goodman. "There's something about setting up your trains next to a real railroad yard."
Outside in the full-size rail yard, the Kelso Flyer pulled up to the station to drop off a load of passengers from Los Angeles to stay the night in Barstow before traveling to their eventual destination of the Kelso Depot — another vintage desert train station 100 miles to the east.
The Kelso Flyer is a special Amtrak train composed of vintage passenger cars from the glory years of passenger rail service.
Craft vendors also set up shop with their wares outside the Harvey House on Saturday and Sunday. Western American Railroad Museum (WARM) volunteer Margaret San Millian said that approximately 50 vendors showed up for this year's fest.
"I would say we have twice the vendors we had last year," said San Millian. "We got a great turnout. Some people come from L.A. — A lot of people are into rail cars. They just like them."
East of the Harvey House the WARM's collection of vintage rail cars — usually shuttered — was open for tours. This year the museum was showing off a newly acquired 1930s vintage business car — complete with bedrooms, dining room, and full kitchen — once used by executives for luxury train travel. The museum hopes to remove latter day add-ons like Formica countertops and restore the car to its original glory.
Museum volunteer Stanley Leak was giving tours of a 1967 diesel engine in the museum's lot. He said that interest in railroading stems from people's love of the past.
"People dream about the way it used to be like," said Leak. "It was a lot of fun and you saw a different country than you do on the highway."
Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or email@example.com