Yermo is a town in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California. Its name is derived from the Spanish word for "wilderness". It is 13 miles east of Barstow on Interstate 15, just south of the Calico Mountains. In 2009, the town's population was an estimated 1,750.
Yermo is governed by an elected five-member board of directors comprising the Community Services District authorized by the County of San Bernardino. The board, which meets monthly, oversees the town's volunteer fire department, the Yermo/Calico VFD, as well as its street lighting, parks and water system. Yermo's ZIP Code is 92398, and the community is in telephone area code 760. Its USPS branch provides post office boxes to local residents and businesses; there is no letter-carrier service.
Yermo hosts the 1,859-acre (7.5 km2) storage and industrial annex of the Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow.
When the Interstate 15 highway opened in 1968, Yermo was immediately bypassed by traffic traveling to and from Las Vegas, Nevada. As a result, 90 percent of its local businesses were required to close. During its heyday, Yermo had 27 gas stations with mechanics, seven bars, two grocery stores, a hardware store, a pizza shop, four real estate offices, three motels, a thrift store, several restaurants, roadside camping sites and two parks. In 2009, it had one grocery/general store, one bar, one thrift store, three restaurants, four gas stations, one park, and one motel three miles south of town. The fast-food restaurant chain Del Taco was founded in Yermo in 1964; the original structure remains active as a local fast food restaurant, The Burger Den.
Yermo has a California agriculture inspection station for traffic heading south on Interstate 15. Caltrans has begun construction on a new port of entry on Interstate 15 just south of the Nevada border, between Yates Well Road and Nipton Road, a joint venture of Caltrans, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Department of General Services and the California Highway Patrol. The new facility will replace the inspection station in Yermo, which will be demolished.
In the mid-20th century, the Yermo chamber of commerce styled the town the "Gateway to the Calicos", referring to the Calico Mountains and the historic Calico Ghost Town located 3 miles north of town. At the time, Yermo and Barstow were campaigning to establish a state park at Calico, which was an active silver mining town from the early 1880s until the turn of the 20th century. In 1952, entrepreneur Walter Knott, whose uncle John King was once Calico's sheriff, and who worked at the town as a carpenter in 1915, purchased Calico and restored it. He later deeded it to the San Bernardino County, which operates the site as a historical county park and a popular tourist attraction of the U.S. Southwest.