A couple of hours out of Las Vegas in the general direction of Los Angeles is the Mojave National Preserve the main visitor centre for which is at the ghost town of Kelso.
Kelso grew rapidly in the early days of the railroad. Very long trains still pass through, but they no longer need to stop off to secure the assistance of helper engines to get them over the mountains. The end of mining nearby is another reason the town become redundant, although it wasn’t completely depopulated until the mid-1980s. All this is interesting enough, but Kelso is not particularly exciting in itself, especially compared with the ghost town of Bodie (more on this later).
The Mojave National Preserve is most interesting for its natural wonders of which the Kelso Dunes most appealed and are probably easiest to take in en route from Vegas to LA.
The views to be gained high up in this vast expanse of near perfect sand are glorious, but what was particularly special on the day we visited was that the Kelso Dunes were singing. The Dunes are only loosely held together by various grasses and the sands are easily moved by the wind to create an ever changing landscape. As wind and sand moves through the grass, various sounds are created which occasionally harmonise.
To hear the Kelso Dunes sing is supposed to bring good luck, but about an hour-and-a-half into our resumed journey to Los Angeles, we had a tyre blow out. Given the appalling state of California’s highways this was not that great a surprise and we had to limp the rest of the way on a speed limiting space saver tyre.
Tag: USA2010. Written 20 June 2010.