Originally known as Blake, Goffs, California is a small unincorporated community located off of Route 66 in the Mojave desert near the Piute Mountains. Originally named for Isaac Blake, builder of the Nevada Southern Railway, the town was named Goffs in 1902, when it served as a railway stop, and housing for the Santa Fe Railroad.
In 1914, Goffs built a schoolhouse which served 1000 square miles of the surrounding desert. The students were primarily children of railroad employees, miners and Mexican immigrant families. The school continued to function as a educational facility until it’s closure in 1937 when the Goffs School District was merged with the nearby Needles school district. During World War II, the “Mission Revival” building served as a canteen for the Desert Training Center, which trained US servicemen for the hardships of desert life in preparation for the African Campaign.
Today, the Goffs school house is used by the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Associations and a museum and cultural center. The schoolhouse was recognized on the National Register of Historic Places on Aug 7th, 2001. ( #01001102 )
Goffs California found it’s way onto my list of cool places by accident on a family vacation along the Old Mojave Road. The first day in, we camped in the New York Mountains. We scheduled a rest day where we could drive the jeeps with a non burden suspension and explore the Mojave Dessert. Almost as an after-thought, we headed towards Goffs not knowing what to expect or who we would find.
As we pulled into the area, we could see a windmill and a couple of buildings which are located behind a locked gate. We decided to get out to stretch a bit, and after a few minutes I noticed a man driving up in a golf cart. At first I was concerned that some old desert hermit was investigating trespassers on his land, and was immediately surprised when this man opened the gate and invited us onto his property. It turned our that this man was Dennis Casebier, the man who wrote the book and rediscovered the Old Mojave Road.
That afternoon, we spent a good portion of the day with the fascinating Mr. Casebier. He told us how he retired to Goffs in the 1990’s and worked to protect the history of the area. He relived the days of searching and marking off the Old Mojave Road by building rock cairns, hundreds of them. He told the stories of the military activity in the area during World War II. He offered us a complete tour of his land and collection of mining equipment, stamp mills, train equipment, etc…
Preserving the Old Mojave Road and the history of the area is Mr. Casebier’s work. At the time, he showed us a 2 stamp stampmill that he restored into working condition and share his plans to assemble a 10 stamp mill which he recently acquired. I understand that he now has this mill working as well, so I need to schedule another trip down to Goffs.
As we were leaving, we thanked him for his hospitality and for opening up for us. He replied that he could not ignore a couple of dirty jeeps driving down the road.
That night, around the campfire I reflected on how fortunate I was to meet Dennis Casebier. I felt privileged, and yet, I suspect that I really was not that lucky. I imagine this that I am one of many, who drove down the road into Goffs and talk with Dennis Casebier.