The X Train route begins in Fullerton, California, located in the center of the most densely populated area in Southern California, travels through the striking beauty of the nearly uninhabited high desert, and arrives, seamlessly, at the new X Train station just north of downtown Las Vegas.
This is a route steeped in history. As the railroads were introduced to the Desert Southwest in the late 1800s and early 1900s, their role in support of immigration and infrastructure for the region was immense. Geography and the availability of water shaped the grades and support for steam engine operations.
As the X Train makes its way from Fullerton through Corona, Riverside and San Bernardino to the foot of Cajon Pass, it travels through the historic mining and railroad town of Barstow before making the climb to Cajon Summit, at an elevation of 3,777 feet. These lands were first inhabited by several different Native American tribes, followed by an influx of European traders and settlers who formed the beginnings of the region’s industrial and modern agricultural society. Mormon settlers from Salt Lake City traveled through Cajon Pass, and a stunning rock formation dotting the landscape where the Mormon Trail and the Santa Fe Railway converged came to be known as Mormon Rocks.
Just north of Yermo, the X Train moves eastward toward Afton Canyon and Cucero for the climb through Kelso on the way to the summit of Cima Hill. Kelso, located in the Mojave National Preserve, boomed in the 1940’s as borax and iron mines opened, soon followed by the discovery of gold and silver. The boom lasted for only about a decade. Kelso is now one of many California ghost towns. The once-abandoned railway depot there is now home to the headquarters for the Mojave National Preserve.
Descending Cima Hill toward the desert floor and paralleling I-15, the X Train makes its final approach to Las Vegas, a city with its own railroad lineage. Las Vegas was established as a railroad town on May 15, 1905, when 110 acres owned by the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad in what is now downtown Las Vegas was auctioned off. The city grew supporting the mining industry before the first casino opened in 1931. The construction of Hoover Dam was another early turning point for Las Vegas, home to about 5,000 residents before the project began. Today, metropolitan Las Vegas has a population of 1.9 million. It seems fitting that the X Train revives passenger rail service to the people of a city so rich in railroad history.