When railroads were a primary conduit for opening up the west, facilities-stations, water towers, roundhouses and division points-were pretty much mandated by the technology of the day. If contemporary locomotives needed water every 50 miles, for example, water towers were built every 50 miles or so. It didn't matter where they were built, or how hostile the environment, it was every 50 miles. In many cases, when railroads entered desolate or unsettled territory and made their presence known by erecting stations or train order shacks, towns of all stripes tended to spring up around them. So it was that in 1905 railroading came to Kelso, California. It was a wide spot in the road when a one-story, wood-frame station was built, and it is still a wide spot in the road today. Legend has it that local railroad workers at Siding 16 drew names out of a hat. The lucky piece of paper had the name "Kelso" on it, which, according to the National Park Service, stood for John Kelso. A town was born.
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