About Bagdad California
Facts, Trivia and useful information: Ghost Town
Elevation 787 ft (188 m). Population 0 (2010).
Time zone changes when you cross the California - Arizona state line. Time zone: Pacific (MST): UTC minus 8 hours. Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7).
Bagdad is a ghost town on Route 66, west of Amboy and east of Ludlow, in central-western San Bernardino County, southeastern California. (Map of Bagdad).
Only a tree marks the site of Bagdad. View from Route 66
The History of Bagdad, California
Visit our Barstow web page to learn more about the early history of this area.
The main wagon trail into California used in the late 1800s crossed the Mojave to the north of what is now Bagdad, along the Mojave Trail.
Railroad in Bagdad
However the railways were approaching: the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad -A & P (In 1897 it was absorbed by the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad) reached Needles, California 1882, after crossing New Mexico and Arizona.
In the meantime, a rival railroad, the Huntington and the Southern Pacific (SP) laid a line eastwards from Barstow to Needles to block any advance of their competitors, the A & P into California. So an interchange was built at Needles, CA linking both lines as a cargo transfer point between them.
But the A&P decided to reach Los Angeles on its own, directly, and started to build a line parallel to the tracks of SP. This forced SP to negotiate the sale of their Mojave line to A&P in Oct. 1884. In 1885 A&P linked its Barstow - Needles Branch was linked via Cajon Pass to San Bernardino and Los Angeles, reaching the Pacific coast.
The Railroad built a stop and named it Bagdad. It was a coaling and watering place for the steam locomotives which had to replenish water quite frequently. Water was brought in 20 tank cars every day from Newberry Springs as the water in Bagdad's wells was briny.
West of Amboy, the railroad rose gradually out of the Basin where that "town" was located. The highest point on the railroad was further west, at Ash Hill, the divide at 1,944 feet. The whole area is volcanic, with plenty of lava flows.
The Name, Bagdad
The station was named after the town in Iraq, founded in 762 AD by Abu Jafar al-Mansur. Now it has over 9,000,000 inhabitants, and is the second largest city in the Arab world.
The town's name dropped the "h", because the correct spelling is "Baghdad" (Iraqi pronunciation: [bɐʁ'd̪??d̪]), the name comes from Middle Persian "bag-dat" meaning: "Given by God".
It got its name due to the desert surroundings in the Mojave.
The post office opened in 1889 and two roads were built to link it with the gold mine at Orange Blossom and the silver and lead mines to the south. The ore was shipped out by railcars.
The 1900s saw Bagdad grow into a village with a Harvey House hotel, at the station and a post office. There were many SF Railroad buildings too as you can see in the photograph below:
Bagdad California in March 1943.
by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information.
The station and the palms are no longer there.
National Old Trails Highway
In the early 1910s when the National Old Trails Highway (N.O.T.) was built for automobiles, from Barstow to Needles, and it followed the railroad, passing through Bagdad.
The Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) map of 1912 shows Bagdad, but it is merely marked as a station 7 miles west of Amboy followed by "numerous cross washes" until Siberia (which today is another Ghost Town too) located 8 miles futher west. The road continued in a winding course through "Very Heavy Sand" past Klondike which was not on the road, and Ash Hill, also, to the north of the highway. It reached Ludlow and crossed the SF RR to its north side, after 21 miles.
The 1913 the Arizona Good Roads Association map of 1913 shows "many cross washes and gutters" between Amboy and Bagdad, where there was a water tank at the station. Even more cross gutters and light sand to Siberia followed by "Heavy sandwash" to Ash Hill "summit".
Three years later the ACSC map infomed that Bagdad had no services and a sandy wash preceded its arrival to the area near Kloindike station.
A fire burned down most of the town in 1918 and the town never recovered. The post office closed in 1923.
In 1922 the ASCS map showed Bagdad (8.5 mi. west of Amboy) as lying north of the road and offering "Meals - Gas - Oil" the road then passed by more stations than shown in the previous maps: Haynes, Siberia (7 mil from Bagdad), Klondike (2.5 mi. west) and Ash Hill (3 more miles), all to the north of the road.
US 66 is created in 1926
By the late 1920s mines had become exhausted, but traffic along Route 66 grew so 1,000 ft. south of the former station, a small community grew to cater to the tourists. A motel opened as well as a truck stop.
USGS map of 1956, showing Bagdad.
After Route 66 was created and aligned along the N.O.T. road, it was straightened out, widened and the bridges were improved. It was also paved.
By 1934, the ACSC map showed Bagdad as clustered on both sides of the railroad, and two roads reaching the station from the North to Orange Blossom Mine, and South into Lead Mountains.
The WPA guide of 1939 1 tells that the road after Amboy was not easy for "On the vast desert, here and there, lies an abandoned auto, sometimes on its back like an upturned turtle, or an occasional little pile of rocks, marking the boundary claims of some hopeful prospector or, topped with a weathered cross, the resting place of some luckless wanderer", it goes on to describe the now ghost town:
"BAGDAD (accommodations), 95.5 m. (787 alt., 20 pop.), is merely a shell of the rip roaring camp that thrived here when the War Eagle and Orange Blossom gold mines to the north were active. The few old buildings that escaped destruction by fire in 1918 are threatened by fierce desert winds, as a huge oil tank with its sides blown in attests. Except for one other spot, Bagdad has less rain than any other place in or near the Mojave Desert a mean annual average of but 2.3 inches; in four out of 20 years it has had no rainfall at all."
It does mention Siberia too: "For 20 miles westward US 66 covers a desolate terrain almost as primitive as it was thousands of years ago. The railroad tracks are dotted with lonely stops without accommodations, which bear such curiously incongruous names as Siberia and Klondike."
The USGS 1956 map (shown), clearly marks the Bagdad Cemetery to the north of the tracks, many siddings next to the station (which was on the north side of the line, and the pipeline. There were several buildings at the junction of the road leading to the station and US 66.
Route 66 in Bagdad
There was a Shell filling station in Bagdad by 1939 as well as a garage and a café. Later the Shell changed to a Union Gas station around 1948.
Postcard of Bagdad in 1939 (Click to enlarge) by www.66postcards.com
After World War II, diesel engines replaced the old steam locomotives. Water stops were no longer necessary. The SF Railroad demolished the old station, but business was focused on US 66 and did so for the next 25 years
But this prosperity came to an end when I-40 opened in 1973, bypassing Route 66 between Ludlow and Needles. Bagdad declined and died.
Now all the buildings have been razed, and only the rubble or foundations remain and one solitary tree.
Where to Stay near Bagdad
Lodging close to Bagdad: Barstow:
More Lodging Near Bagdad along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to Bagdad, California
Heading East.... In California
- 80 miles.Needles
Further East.... In Arizona
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in California...
>> Check out RV campground near Bagdad at Newberry Springs
Weather in Bagdad
The ghost town named Bagdad is located in the Mojave Desert and has a "Subtropical desert climate" with very dry and hot weather.
There are 290 sunny days every year.
During summer, the average high temperature (Jul) is a very hot 107.4°F (41.9°C), with a hot average low of 78.8°F (26°C).
The winter average high (Jan) is a balmy 65°F (18.3°C) and the average low is a rather cool 37.2°F (2.9°C).
Rainfall is very scarce in the ghost town: some 10 in. (254 mm) every year and there are 30 rainy days each year. The dryest months are April to July which are followed by the "rainy" summer monsoon season. Watch out for severe thunderstorms during summer. Snow is extremely rare with scarcely 3 in. per year or less.
During summer make sure you stay hydrated. The hot and dry desert climate can dehydrate you quickly. Drink plenty of water and dress for the heat. Read more.
Weather Record in Bagdad
Bagdad has the record for the longest dry spell in the whole of recorded American history: not one single drop of rain fell there between October 3, 1912 and November 8, 1914. This means a total of 767 days without rain.
Bagdad is located to the west of the Rocky Montains, so there is virtually no risk of any tornados in this area.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Bagdad
You can reach the ghost town driving along old Route 66 which here is named "Old National Trails Highway". Also from I-40 at Exits 78, 50, 100 and 107.
Map of Route 66 in Bagdad
Map of Bagdad and US Highway 66, California.
The map below shows the different alignments of Route 66 near Bagdad and the color key is for Bagdad only. It is the following:
(for the other parts of the map, check the color key of the map of the corresponding city)
Pale Blue: the "old 1926 to 1931" alignment of Route 66 to Fenner and Essex from US 95 Arrowhead Junction and Exit 133 of I-40.
And for the Needles - to Exit 133, it is the 1926 to 1970s road. West of Essex it is the 1931 - 1973 alignment, through Needles.
Red: I-40, where it covers the old roadbed of Route 66.
Black: the 1926 to 1931 alignment in Fenner, bypassed later when I-40 was built, and Goffs Rd. moved west to link at Exit 107.
Blue: The post 1931 alignment of Route 66 from Mountain Springs to Essex.
See Route 66's alignment in California Map
The icons show the "Bagdad Cemetery" and "Siberia (Ghost Town)".
Remove or restore State shading
Route 66's alignment in California: the Historic Route 66 through Bagdad
Route 66 across California
U.S. Route 66 does not have any Byway or Historic designation in California despite having long sections of original roadbed between Needles and Santa Monica (like this one).
Click on the following link for an overview of Route 66 across the state of California.
Below you will find detailed information on Old Route 66 at Bagdad
Sights and Attractions in Bagdad, California
What to Do, Places to See
Bagdad, an abandoned razed town
Bagdad is a ghost town on Route 66. The main sights are Bagdad's Cemetery and the remains of neighbouring Siberia, another Ghost Town. For the famous Bagdad Cafe, you must head west along Route 66 to Newberry Springs.
You will see no buildings at Bagdad. The small community was abandoned in the early 1970s after I-40 bypassed it and business died. The buildings fell into disrepair and in 1991, the old school house and remaining structures were demolished. All you will see is a solitary tree on the north side of the road. Bagdad has gone.
Despite having died in the early 1970s, the 1987 German film "Bagdad Café" directed by Percy Adlon was based on a remote motel, truck-stop and café located in... Bagdad.
As nothing existed in Bagdad in 1987, the movie was shot close by, at Newberry, on Route 66 (read more about the movie and the actual café at Bagdad Cafe, in Newberry), at the Sidewinder Cafe, later renamed the "Bagdad Café".
Cemetery at Bagdad
North side of the Railroad, Bagdad, CA.
The old cemetery shown in the Map of Bagdad, above on the north side of the railroad tracks is still there, abandoned in the desert.
This Google map shows the exact location of the Cemetery. Click on it and zoom in, you can actually see the stones that outline some of the graves.
The graves are marked with crosses but no indication is given abouth those buried there. Were they Chinese railroad workers or Mexican "Traqueros", which the Southern Pacific Railroad had hired in growing quantities when it laid the track from Barstow to Needles?
Another option is that they were the victims of the June 20 1914 Bagdad train wreck, that killed two passengers and injured eight when the east-bound California Limited train crashed into an open switch, demolishing two cars. (Read more).
Bagdad Cemetery, Route 66
Thumbnail of the Cemetery. Click to enlarge. By Bill Cook.
The image shows a view of the graves at the cemetery.
Head back to the highway and continue your journey, westwards to another ghost town: Siberia, which is 7 mi. away (Map with directions).
Elevation 1,283 ft. (391 m). No population.
Siberia is another Ghost town on Route 66, it was 8 mile to the northwest of Bagdad.
The Name: Siberia
Is the vast eastern part of Russia, in northwestern Asia. The name is said to derive from "Sibir" a Tartar fortress built at the confluence of the Irtysh and Tobol rivers.
That name comes from Tartar "Sib Ir" or "Sleeping land". Another version is that it is the name of a mysterious tribe, the "Sipyrs" who lived in the region.
At one time it was a water stop for the steam locomotives of the SF RR. But when steam was replaced by diesel power, the station closed and only the stop for Route 66
travellers remained. This too closed down after Interstate 40 opened in 1973, eliminating traffic along the old US 66.
Ruins at Siberia, by Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects
Remains and ruins at Siberia.
There was a store and a Texaco Gas station there with a garage since the 1930s. The foundations of this building can be seen (although it is likely to be the remains of a railway structure), north of Route 66 as shown in the map.
You can see a vintage view of the Texaco in This 1930s postcard
Tours and Nearby places to visit
National Natural Landmark
To the east of Bagdad, juts before reaching Amboy. The volcano, is a cinder cone that is 250 ft. high (76 m) and 1,500 ft diameter at its base (460 m). It has a crater on its summit. It is relatively young speaking in geological terms: between 600 and 6,000 years old.
Read more at our Amboy pate.
The Alignment of Old Route 66 in Bagdad
From Danby to Bagdad
As mentioned above, the first road through Bagdad was the National Old Trails (N.O.T.) road. Which was built to link Los Angeles with New York in the early 1910s.
This road ran, on the south side of the SF RR from Amboy to Ludlow.
This is the Map from Amboy to Ludlow through Bagdad and Siberia.
Outdoors, National and State Parks
Mojave National Preserve
Kelso Dunes in Mohave Preserve California, "Mike" Michael L. Baird
The Mojave National Preserve protects almost 1.6 million acres of desert habitat; it is a scenic National Park located just west of Needles, east of Barstow, between I-15 and I-40 and the California - Nevada state line.
Observe wildlife like the Desert Tortoise or Bighorn Sheep. Visit the "Hole in the Wall" area, the Cinder Cones, Cima Dome and Kelso Dunes.
Read more at the Official National Parks website By clicking you will leave our Website. Come back soon!.
Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.
A Guide to the Golden State, by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration, Hastings House, New York, 1939.