As most people know the western United States is in the midst of a long term drought, where water is precious. In previous posts I have shown Lake Powell, at historic low levels. The same is true of Lake Mead, sitting behind the Hoover Dam.
Yet here in the middle of the desert is Lake Havasu, made possible by Parker Dam. It is constantly at 97%+ full. Why – because 100 year old water rights says parts of California get the water first, and Havasu is that reservoir.
What to do with that water – create an island out of what was once a peninsula, and use the 200 year old London Bridge to cross the channel.
Havasu City was created by an eccentric millionaire back in the 1960s who bought thousands of acres of desert along the reservoir, only to find that nobody wanted to come.
The city of London needed to replace the bridge since it was sinking into the Thames River, so they held an auction where, as legend has it, had 1 bidder – Robert McCulloch.
Once purchased, he had it disassembled after carefully labeling each block, shipped by boat 1/2 way around the world through the Panama Canal to the Port of Long Beach, then across the couple of hundred miles of desert to Havasu.
They then set to it building a bridge in the middle of the desert (water to come later). This photo is off the internet.
Legend also says that McCulloch thought he was buying Tower Bridge, but this has been debunked. Eventually he had his bridge, and it was a success – thousands of tourists came, and now Lake Havasu City is home to over 50,000 people, with probably 3 times as many here for the 4th of July weekend.
While you are there you can enjoy the sound of hundreds, if not thousands of people on boats and jet skis that have been towed hundreds of miles to this remote location by their giant trucks and SUVs, to cruise around and complain about the cost of gas.
The Colorado River leading up to Havasu is similar.
Another of the attractions of Havasu is a collection of replica lighthouses. There are 28 of the houses scattered around, many of them on private property (behind gates), so the only way to see them is by boat. We chose to drive to those we could get to.
The sun set on the roar of engines and the London Bridge.
As we left Havasu early the next morning we passed the solitude of a nature preserve. Ahhhh.
In the southwest United States there is a variation of a yucca known as a Joshua Tree. It was named that by some Mormon settlers in the 1800s.
The Joshua Tree National Park covers a vast area of Southern California. The parts of the park at a lower elevation are in the Sonoran Desert, while those where the Joshua Trees are located at a higher elevation are in the Mojave Desert.
In addition to the tree there are many interesting rock formations throughout the park. A combination of volcanic activity, seismic activity and erosion has lead to some great shapes.
Some have eroded to look like faces and skulls in the rocks.
Climbing around on the rocks is a favorite activity – even in a vampire cape.
From Keys View you can see all of the Coachella Valley, from Salton Sea at -230 elevation to 10,800′ San Jacinto Peak. The view below is looking back towards Palm Springs.
The southern portion of the park is in the lower elevation Sonoran Desert. It features an area known as the Cholla Cactus Garden – an area with more chollas than I have ever seen in such a small space.
Joshua Tree National Park is a unique natural setting well worth the trip.
While Palm Canyon is a natural oasis, with a constant water source, the city of Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley is not. Billed as a Golf Capital of the World, the Palm Springs tourist bureau touts over 100 golf courses in an area that receives about 5 inches of rain a year!
In addition most of the homes have grass in their lawns. As a result it is a very lush place during a time of long term drought.
Palm Springs has for decades been a winter escape for the wealthy, with many building the signature mid century modern homes back in the 1940s and 1950s. Most of those homes have been remodeled and sell for very high prices today.
Fortunately many of the remodels have taken the xeriscape approach and removed the grass in the landscaping.
The Salton Sea is a biological nightmare located about 100 miles east of Los Angeles. Created by mistake by people making an irrigation channel from the Colorado River to the Imperial Valley, only to see if massively flooded in the early 1900s, creating this ‘sea’.
By the 1950s the lake should have dried up since it has no natural source of water, but the farmers continued to flood it with diverted water. At this point developers decided this was a perfect spot to create some resorts for the Angelenos to come hang out at.
With contaminated run off from all of the agricultural chemicals being used, and a stoppage of the water flow the lake began to shrink, and become hazardous, thus ending the vacation appeal.
As a result some of the resort towns that had developed eventually became mostly deserted. One of those is Bombay Beach.
Recently though some alternate artists have re-discovered Bombay Beach and moved in, creating a unique setting. Enjoy the views, but stay out of the water.
If Bombay Beach is not unique enough, head on further south another 20 miles until you reach Slab City.
This ‘town’ is completely off the grid, situated on an old WWII Marine Corps based. When the war was over they demolished the buildings, leaving the concrete slabs behind. For a while it was used as a bombing range, but when they stopped doing that drifters moved in.
Today those that reside here (Slabbies) like to think of themselves as the Last Free People of America. It is a funky mix of art, junk and RVs – which are often a combination of the first two things.
Salvation Mountain is one of the more famous sights in Slab City. Created over a 30 year period by Leonard Knight it was featured in a movie called Into the Wild.
The light beam is not a sign from above, it was created when we took the photo through the windshield of the car with this reflection. But hey – if you see something else, c’est la’vie.
A few years worth of depot and station photos have been added, resulting in a very long posting.
Boise, Idaho – No longer used as a station.
Spokane, Washington – Just the clocktower remains from the Great Northern Station.
Wichita, Kansas – The old passenger terminal and the freight station are side by side.
Kansas City, Missouri
Tucson – Not only does Amtrak stop in Tucson, it does so at this classic building.
Phoenix – Unfortunately there is no passenger rail service in Phoenix, so the building is locked away.
Brooklyn, New York – Brighton Beach Station on the historic car day
San Isidro, Argentina – There are two stations here, one is on the more touristy Coastal Route
The main San Isidro station is on the Tigre-Retiro Line.
Retiro Train Station
Concepcion Train Station
Once Train Station
A Sampling of Subway Stations
For more detailed looks check out these postings.
Toronto – Streetcars
Depot in rail museum
Hamilton, Ontario – GO Station
Brooklyn, New York – MTA Museum. A former subway station (Court Street) is now the MTA Museum with a number of historic cars. The coolest subway platform in town.
Galveston, Texas – Santa Fe Railroad Station and Office Buildings. Now a rail museum.
New Orleans – The St Charles Streetcar
Washington – Union Station
Chicago – Union Station
Chicago El Stations
Howard El Station – Vintage Train waiting to take us to the Skokie CTA Shops
Quincy – Dating from 1897, the Quincy Station has been left fairly intact to original.
Pittsburgh – Penn Station
Manhattan – City Hall Station, Built 1904, Abandoned 1946.
Manhattan – PATH station in the World Trade Center Oculus.
The train to Hoboken
Jersey City – New Jersey Transit Light Rail – Newport Station
Columbus – near German Village – The High Street Streetcar Line Car House. Very nicely restored as a banquet facility.
On this Sunday morning they were setting up for something – so the door was open 🙂
Berea, Ohio Depot – Now a restaurant and tavern.
The Berea Depot sits along two major rail lines, and the parking lot had a number of die hard Railfans hanging out to watch the freight trains go blowing by. Apparently this spot in the best spot east of Chicago for those type of activities.
While in nearby Olmstead Falls is a small depot that was also once located next door in Berea.
It is part of a railroad themed shopping and entertainment complex.
Elyria, Ohio is a medium sized city, so they had a larger station. It too has recently been restored.
The Elyria station features some nice architectural touches.
Amherst, Ohio Depot.
As with many others it too is a community center.
Oberlin, Ohio is home to to Oberlin College – the oldest co-educational college in America, and second oldest in the world. It continues to be one of the highest ranked liberal arts colleges in America – in this tiny little northern Ohio town!
Their train depot is located in a small park.
It is nice to see how many towns have retained these historic buildings.
Just down the road in Wellington is the Lorain and West Virginia Railway Museum. While situated along the tracks, this depot was moved to the site.
The museum offers rail excursions.
The little town of New London, Ohio has a tiny little depot that has been moved to a local park.
Our last stop of the day was in Galion, Ohio. We came upon this great Queen Anne style station that was open for a ‘Doors Open’ event.
The station’s interior needs some work, but it is standing and seemingly solid.
The stone and brick building still features much of the canopy for waiting passengers.
This station was home to the ‘Big Four’ railroad – that connected Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus & St Louis (they must have skipped Indiana).
On our Labor Day weekend throughout the Midwest we visit a few stations that were along the way.
Battle Creek, Michigan
Three Oaks, Michigan – It is now an upscale clothing store in a tiny little tourist town.
Chicago – Union Station (Interiors)
Buffalo Central Terminal – There is a dedicated posting for this amazing station
Jersey City – This station is at the dock for the ferries to the Statue of Liberty. Currently unused, it appears to be being restored as part of Liberty State Park
St Louis – Union Station. Now a hotel and a shopping mall
Philadelphia – 30th Street Station
Boston – South Station
Denver – Union Station. I understand it has been restored since this photo was taken.
New York – Grand Central Terminal. I have amazingly few photos of this great terminal despite having been in and out of there numerous times.
Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania Station. Now luxury apartments.
The Amtrak station is connected, but in an ugly little building near the lower level
Dennison, Ohio – This nice little station has been restored into a museum.
Scranton, Pennsylvania – Steamtown National Historic Park has a great roundhouse that serves as the museum.
Also in Scranton is an old station.
Canon City, Colorado – The spectacular Royal Gorge Scenic Railroad station.
Greeley, Colorado – Centennial Village Union Pacific Depot
Bowling Green, Ohio Depot – now located at Dayton’s Carillon Park
Glendale, Ohio – Now serves at the Visitor Center
Dearborn, Michigan – Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum.
Thurmond, West Virginia – Located in the New River Gorge National Park.
Fargo, North Dakota
Nelsonville, Ohio – Home of the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad
Elmore, Ohio – Another visitor center
Bellville Depot – It has been restored and is now a rest stop along a ‘rails to trails’ path.
A stylish clock is on the other side of the path, facing a great looking bridge.
The overall scene of the Bellville depot.
The town of Mt Vernon has two passenger depots and a former freight building. The first building was a Baltimore & Ohio depot.
It actually sits along active tracks.
Used by the local community development organization, it is beautifully restored inside and out.
The second station, just a few blocks away is restored as well.
A passenger station for the Pennsylvania Railroad, it closely resembles the B &O station. If you have ever wondered why some towns have ‘Union Stations’ it is because of this, why have 2 stations – have a ‘union’ of railroads and build one.
The tracks here have been converted to a rails to trails as well.
The interior is fantastic.
Even the heating radiators are stylish.
We arrived at Granville in the pouring down rain, so I took a couple photos out the car window. As with many of the others, it is a stop on a rails to trails.
Leaving the rain we stopped in the tiny town of Alexandria, where the station has been moved a mile or so from it’s original location to a parking lot of a business.
The next day we headed to western Ohio to the town of South Charleston. This depot had the best of both worlds, it was on a bike trail going one way and an active track going the other way.
Across the tracks was a park with a couple of cabooses.
The small city of London, Ohio was our next stop.
The station here was along unused tracks, and appears to be owned by a club. The building appears to have been restored, but the area around the building is a bit shabby.
As with most of the medium size stations there is some character to the architecture.
I had read that a depot from the southern Ohio town of Bainbridge had been moved to a place called Greene’s Museum Village, but when we found it, the place looked overgrown and someplace I didn’t want to go knock on a door – so a photo from across the corn fields sufficed.
Finally back in Columbus we unexpectedly passed by some remnants of the streetcar years. This unused building is just north of downtown and was the business offices for the streetcar company.
A streetcar barn had been located across the street but has been torn down years ago.
I can’t believe someone hasn’t restored this great building.
On the east side of Columbus, near Franklin Park is the Kelton Avenue streetcar barn. Actually this is the repair shop, the storage barns have been torn down here as well.
I have added the rest of the streetcar remnants to my list of places to go see, so stay tuned for more in the future.
The Brice Station served a small town just east of Columbus, now it is part of an events center on the northwest side of town.
We were lucky enough to meet a Reverend who was getting ready for his Sunday morning services. He was more than happy to let us look around the nicely restored station.
In the back they have a dining car, that still functions as a dining car – it just doesn’t move.
The counter is a work of art.
Our next stop is owned by the same people, only located across town. It is called the Golf Depot, and serves as the restaurant and clubhouse for the golf course.
I was immediately impressed with the views. Central Ohio is very flat and I was surprised that we were on a small rise, with a skyline view and a view of the nearby airport.
Where did this hill come from you ask? It was a huge landfill/garbage dump that they have re-purposed into this golf course. As with the last depot, the train never stopped here, since there were never any tracks anywhere close to here.
They do celebrate their rail history with a mural.
The depot was moved in tact and placed on the course.
The restaurant has all of the original wood.
We were having such good luck finding great little depots we headed 30 miles away to the small town of Sunbury, Ohio. I had read they too had a station, and a model train exhibit inside. Unfortunately the station was covered in some hideous faux shake shingles.
It was located where the tracks were, but are now gone. In it’s place is a very nice rails to trails path. I was disappointed in the depot, but the hike made up for it.
We continued back toward the city by stopping in the small city of Delaware, Ohio where the list said there were 2 stations very close to each other. The list was correct, there was this small wooden depot.
Mostly hidden behind barbed wire fence.
And a larger one across the tracks.
That had warning signs of the hazardous conditions. So much for our good luck with finding cool little depots this day.
This small depot is located the Mad River and Nickel Plate Railroad Museum in Bellevue, Ohio.
The small station serves as a display area for the museum.
Bucyrus, Ohio is currently restoring their fine brick station.
We are looking forward to a return visit when it is completed.
Newark’s is already restored and serves as an office for a local business.
While a nearby mural celebrates their rail history.
The small town of Canal Winchester (so named because the Ohio and Erie canal went through the town before the railroads) has two stations – this one if for the Interurbans (regional trains).
It serves as a community center.
On the other side of town is a small depot for the mainline trains.
A small museum resides inside.
With a couple of restored cars outside.
The Marion station is one of the nicer ones. The exterior is in great shape, and the interior is not bad. A local rail fan club maintains the building.
Marion is located near multiple main freight lines and attract numerous rail fans.
The building has a classic look.
The nearby control tower oversees the activities.
In a Lima part there is a small depot called Lincoln Park. This small depot was located in a nearby town and moved to the park as part of the rail display.
It currently serves as offices for the park.
The Franklin County Fairgrounds is the home of the Hilliard Depot.
The National Road is more famous for automobile traffic, but this little depot served interurbans that eventually lost out to the cars.
Another small depot in the town of Pickerington.
Our last couple are more impressive stations. The Columbus and Toledo station on the near west side of Columbus is a great building with a pagoda look.
With the main Columbus station gone, it is fantastic that this one survived.
It currently serves as a union hall, but they rent it out for weddings and other events.
Finally – Cincinnati Union Terminal.
On of the best domes in the world, it is mostly used for a number of museums that make their home there.
But Amtrak does use a portion of the building.
Easily one of the best train stations in America, the woodwork is stunning.
Art deco at it’s finest. My plan is to update this posting as we visit more depots and stations around Ohio.
As you drive around the freeways of Phoenix and Tucson one of the first things you will notice is the artwork along the roadways. With little vegetation growing the Department of Transportation took the approach of incorporating artwork either within the concrete structures or with stone along the banks.
Much of the artwork is based on native cultures. It definitely adds to the usually boring aspect of a freeway.
A big thank you goes to my wife who (wisely) was the photographer for all of these photos, as well as many other ‘moving shots’ on the trip.