|Population: 23,000 people|
County: San Bernardino
Small Barstow is located in the Northern part of San Bernardino County, about half way between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, at the entrance to the Mojave National Preserve. Barstow was founded in the end of 1880th, when silver and borax mining began in Calico Mountains in the western part of the Mojave Desert. At that time the local mines were considered the richest in California, but the “silver rush” was short, lasted for about 20 years, and went into decline, after which the small mining towns became ghost towns. One of them, Calico, is located about 5 miles from the modern Barstow. One third of the town is original; the remaining carefully reconstructed to recreate the "spirit' of Calico's Old West past.
A curious fact about the Calico history, American practicality and … jeans, was that in 1948 in Calico old Levi Strauss jeans, made in about 1890 (when jeans were work closes for miners, farmers and cowboys), were found. Though they were worn to holes, the woman who found them, being not very rich, fixed them and began wearing them. Later the company bought the relic from the owner for 25 dollars and several pairs of new jeans. Now these jeans, probably the oldest of survived to the day, are stored in the company museum. They say they are not very different from Levi's 501.
Barstow avoided the fate of the neighbors, being located on the intersection of important thoroughfares that go through the southern part of California. As early as in 1888, one of the Santa-Fe railroads reached here, and the city was named after then-president of the company. In the beginning of the 20th century, the famous route 66, immortalized in song, literature, and even a TV series as the Main Road of the USA, reached Barstow. The Main Street of Barstow became a part of that famous American highway.
Without exaggeration one can call Barstow a sentry, sentinel to the national security. About ten military bases, polygons, defense research and training centers, are located within 50 miles from the city. Among them are the Edwards Air Force Base, familiar from many Hollywood movies, NASA's Goldstone space tracking station, Twentynine (29) Palms Marine Corps Base, the U.S. Army National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, China Lake Naval Weapons Center and others. In December 1944 the Private A rocket was successfully tested from a nearby Leach Spring polygon, the rocket that was designed under one of the first national rocket programs. At the turn of the century the first Marsokhod, designed by Russian engineers, and a new space suit by NASA were presented in Barstow.
Barstow is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. In 1988 the world largest solar station Solar One, of 10 megawatts of power, was launched. Great attention is paid in California these days to the issue of alternative sources of energy, and the research results are already being implemented. According to the recently started program, more than 20% of power manufactured in the state will be obtained from renewable sources, and more than a million households will be equipped with solar energy systems until 2017.