Kelso, moving into World War II

December 30, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

During World War II the population grew to nearly 2500 people, the trainmen, women and children.  Most were involved with the railroad as the trains ran on a feverish 24/7 schedule, moving men and material to the west coast and back.  Not as many public passengers traveled during the war, unless it was for special military style work, most of the passengers were military personnel. 

Mining in the area of Kelso was iron ore for the Kaiser Steel plant in Fontana, CA.; over 2500 tons per day.  Gold and silver mining were closed down, since the main need was for steel to build Liberty ships.

The repair facilities were busy nearly twenty-four hours per day, as trains needed the helper engines to make the grade up to Cima summit east of Kelso.  The helpers would drop from the train back down to Kelso, to wait for the next train needing assistance to make the grade.

There was a school for the children, a pool, baseball fields, and Packard's Store, where one could purchase necessities, and send mail.  The Kelso depot was the center of most all activities, including church services, waiting for, and watching the trains.  The pool table in the basement was a respite from the day-to-day workings of a very busy railroad yard 40 miles from nearly anywhere.

The diesel era begins, next.

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