September 28, 2008

Goffs Depot reincarnated as library

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Built as a replica of the historic Goffs Depot, this building is really a research library containing the unique Mojave Desert Archives.
Photo by Dennis G. Casebier/CERCA Contributor

A vanished railroad depot will be reborn as a research library and the home of a unique archive Oct. 11 during the 2008 Mojave Road Rendezvous at Goffs, Calif.

Goffs is a former railroad junction and ranching community that has become a repository of historical buildings, artifacts, and lore relating to the Eastern Mojave. The latest addition to its resources, the library, was built in the image of the Goffs Depot that formerly stood at the junction of the shortline Nevada Southern Railroad with the Santa Fe, the main east-west line through the Southern California desert. For about 30 years beginning in 1893, this junction connected Searchlight to the outside world; its depot stood from 1902 to 1956.

Goffs has become regionally famous as the site where historian and author Dennis Casebier, his wife, Jo Ann, and scores of other volunteers restored a charming one-room schoolhouse, originally built in 1914, to serve once again as the social center and soul of the sparsely populated community, as well as a small museum.

Here also Casebier and company assembled an unrivaled collection of over 100,000 photos, 4,500 maps, 700 oral histories, 6,000 books and other documents and ephemera now known as the Mojave Desert Archives, which will be the heart of the new library's collection. They chronicle the Mojave Road, an Indian trade route that became a 19th-century military highway; the region's mining boom of the 19th and 20th centuries; decades of friction between homesteaders and cattle barons; and much more.

Now in its 28th year, the annual Mojave Road Rendezvous is primarily a gathering of the volunteers who have restored and rebuilt the desert crossing and gathered the region's artifacts and knowledge. The event is also open to the public; however, no public accommodations or recreational vehicle hookups are available at Goffs; the closest are the motels of Needles, Calif., 30 miles to the east, or the campgrounds of the nearby Mojave National Preserve. Goffs is 104 miles southwest of Las Vegas.

The Rendezvous kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 10 with a covered-dish supper, where visitors bring one to share, continues with the dedication at 2 p.m. Saturday, and a no-host dinner at 4 p.m. in the no-frills "Flywheel Cafe." For further information, contact the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association Web site,, or call (760) 733-4848.