Barstow, California: High Desert History Collection

Small museum displays heritage items of the area from Native Americans to space travel. A little random, the High Desert's first commercial radio transmitter, and a "light fixture hung on Bob Bruce's garage...since at least 1950."

Mojave River Valley Museum

Address:
270 East Virginia Way, Barstow, CA
Directions:
Mojave River Valley Museum, I-15 exit to Barstow Rd north, west side of Barstow Rd. and Virginia Way.
Hours:
Daily 11 am - 4 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
760-256-5452
Admission:
Free.
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Porch light.

Mojave River Valley Museum

Sometimes we check out local history museums hoping we'll spot a unique, unheralded aspect -- a shrunken head, a lunchbox collection, a chunk of petrified sloth dung resembling a beloved mayor... that kind of thing. The day we passed through Barstow only one of its several museums was open, and worth a look.

The Mojave River Valley Museum focuses on the region's history, shaped by Native Americans, missionaries, miners, the railroads and the space program. The exhibit space is small and free, staffed with knowledgeable volunteers. Barstow residents have been preserving documents and artifacts since 1964 -- they archive thousands of photos and news clips.

Many of the local history items displayed are accompanied by explanatory signs. That's how we know that a big greenish metal cabinet, with bulky vacuum tubes visible through its glass front, was the "first commercial radio transmitter of the high desert."

The accumulated treasures are thoughtfully arranged. An exhibit on NASA's nearby Deep Space Network complex includes a dish model, but also a space shuttle model and a souvenir Apollo 11 Moon Landing drinking glass. Another display presents vintage cameras donated by a local photographer and historical society member. A male mannequin dons a donated military uniform, while a young female shows off a "Harvey Girl" outfit.

So no insane obsessive collection, no oddball sensation. But for some reason, we are transfixed by a still working porch light, deemed worthy of preservation, screwed into the wood paneling above a cabinet. A tag tied to it with twine reads: "This light fixture hung on Bob Bruce's garage on West Buena Vista Street since at least 1950."

[RoadsideAmerica.com Team, 02/09/2013]

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In the region:
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