About Newberry Springs California
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation 1,831 ft (558 m). Population 2,895 (2000).
Time zone: Pacific (MST): UTC minus 8 hours. Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7).
Newberry Springs is an unicorporated community located on Route 66, to the east of Barstow, in central San Bernardino County in the southeast of California. (Map of Newberry Springs).
The Bagdad Cafe in Newberry Springs, on Route 66
The History of Newberry Springs, California
Visit our Barstow web page to learn more about the early history of this area.
The Mojave Trail was the main route used by traders and pioneers making their way into California. It was opened in the late 1700s but became well used after 1850. It crossed the Mojave to the north of what is now Newberry Springs.
But by 1883, the railroad had reached the area, in a transcontinental link:
Railroad in Newberry Springs
That year, the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (A & P) concluded its line across New Mexico and Arizona by crossing the Colorado River at Needles where it met its competitor, the Huntington and the Southern Pacific (SP) railway which had also just finished its line that crossed the Mojave from Barstow.
The following year, A &P forced its rival to sell them the line (they began building their own line parallel to SP's) and in 1885 reached Los Angeles through Cajon Pass.
It was at this time (February 1993) that a key station was established: Newberry Springs a valuable source of water for the railway's steam locomotives.
The Name, Newberry Springs
SP railroad named the sation Newberry (without the Springs part) after two brothers who lived there. But the first post office was named "Watson" after the first postmaster, Josiah Watson. It closed shortly after and reopened in 1899 with as "Newberry" but soon switched to "Wagner" after the postmistress Madge Wagner.
In 1919 the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad (which had absorbed the AP RR in 1897) named the place "Water" due to its importance as a water source.
Finally in 1967 it was renamed "Newberry Springs" to distinguish it from "Newberry Park".
Another version says that it was named after Dr. John Strong Newberry (1822-1892) a phyician and geologist, he was part of the Ives expedition along the Colorado River in 1857.
The surname is a locational one, derived from the many places called "Newbury", which in turn were named in Old Enlgish "neowe" (new) and "burh" (town or fortress), as in "burg", therefore "new town".
National Old Trails Highway
The use of automobiles grew in the early 1900s and ten years later the National Old Trails (N.O.T.) promoted a highway across the Mojave from Barstow to Needle which was a part of the road linking Los Angeles and New York. It ran close to the tracks of the Santa Fe RR and passed through Newberry Springs.
The 1912 map of the Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) shows how tough the road was: west of Ludlow the road climbed a 15% Grade towards Argos (5 mi.) and then "Sand - Hard Pulling" into Lavic (9 miles west of Ludlow). There the N.O.T. road crossed to the south side of the Santa Fe track and climbed a 10% Grade of Heavy Sand, crossing a dry lake well to the south of the black lava beds that the railway crossed. It passed far to the south of the station named Hector and after passsing through another Dry Lake 29 miles west of Ludow at Troy (it seems that the person who named the stations was inspired in Homer's Illiad), it reached a "Fine Spring" next to the "alkali marsh" at Newbyerry Springs. Which, at that time had no services for the traveller (37 mi. from Ludlow).
In 1915, the ACSC map showed that the alignment had changed at Lavic: it kept west on the north side of the railroad avoiding the dry lake, the lava beds and Pisgah Crater. At Pisgah station it passed south of the tracks (mi. 14 mi from Ludlow), going through Hector and close to a well at the western tip of the lava field. Then it avoided the dry lake located east of Newberry Springs, which had "Good Camping Ground and fine water".
At that time, the USGS reported that Newberry had a "great spring... the water is piped to the statoin, pumped into tanks and used... as far east as Bagdad" over 200,000 gallons of water were shunted in tank cars each day. There were many mesquite trees in the area, as there was abundant water underground.
US 66 in Newberry Springs
Route 66 was created in 1926 and followed the N.O.T. alignment, but by then it had a straighter course. Ludlow had "Hotel- gas - oil" and there was a Stromantianite mine at Argos (a rare carbonate mineral and one of only a few strontium minerals). Lavic was passed further north than before, and Pisgah's crater was named Mt. Disgon. There was a winding road past Hector and 3 mi west of it was "gas-oil" and in Newberry there was "Store-gas-oil".
By 1931, US 66 had been improved, paved, widened and better bridges built. The WPA's 1939 California guide 1 describes the area as follows, note that it is Newberry (without the Springs suffix):
"In a dry-farming region is NEWBERRY, 146.5 m. (1,631 alt., 175 pop.), once named simply Water. At the spring that flows beneath the overhanging black precipices of the NEWBERRY MOUNTAINS, early travelers quenched their thirst. Newberry is a refresh- ing green oasis of alders, willows, and cottonwoods clustering about that desert rarity a swimming pool. Water is a prized commodity. Trains of eighteen and twenty 10,000-gallon tank cars haul it daily as far as Bagdad for use in locomotive boilers. Melons, alfalfa, and apricots are shipped from here."
During and after World War II, diesel engines quickly replaced the steam powered locomotives so water stops were no longer necessary, Newberry became more focused on Route 66 for its income.
By 1960, traffic through Newberry (as measured at the California Agricultural Inspection Station) had peaked at 357,000, clearly a new and safer highway was needed, and it came as I-40 in 1973, which bypassed the town and the whole of Route 66 from there to Needles. Business declined and shifted to the expressway.
Mojave Trail or Mojave Road
The natives used a trail from Cajon Pass, a gap between the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains in the south to the Colorado River, by following the Mojave River and other watering spots (springs) across the Mojave Desert.
Father Garces used the trail in his 1776 mission to the Hopi in Arizona. Jedediah Smith was the first American to travel it in 1826, westwards.
In the late 1820s, "The Old Spanish Trail" was established by Mexican merchants in New Mexico and met the Mojave Trail at Soda Lake. After Mexico ceded the area to the U.S. after the Mexican - American war (1846-48), Lt. Edward Fitzgerald "Ned" Beale surveyed a wagon road from Ft. Smith Arkansas to California (1857).
Beale's Wagon Trail crossed the Colorado River at Ft. Mohave and linked up with the Mojave Trail. Settlers used it as they moved into California.
This led to conflict with the local natives, the Paiute, Mojave and Chemehuevi and the establshment of Fort Cady (1860) and Fort Mohave (1859).
Camp Cady - Fort Cady
The U.S. Army established a camp to the northeast of Barstow, north of Newberry Springs in 1860. It was named after Major Albemarle Cady, a friend of Major James Carleton, who founded it during a reprisal campaign against the Paiute who attacked travelers along the Mojave Trail. It was deserted during the American Civil War from 1861 to 1863 and garrisoned until the natives were subdued and pacified around 1871.
The place is 12 miles north of Newberry Springs and there is a historical marker at the site.
The Mojave is an itermitent river that flows in a closed basin with an area of 4,580 sq. mi. (11.862 km2), its source is in the San Bernardino Mountains at almost 3,000 ft. altitude (900 m) and it discharges into Soda Lake, in the Mojave Desert.
110 mi long (177 km), its discharge varies from nil to a maximum of 70,600 cu. ft. (2.0000 m3). Most of its water flow is underground as the river bed is dry most of the year.
Father Garces named it Arroyo de los Mártires (Martyrs Creek) in 1776. When Jedediah Smith followed it westwards into California in 1826 he named it "Inconstant River".
The underwater course of the Mohave River was marked by vegetation growing next to it, and therefore was in sight of Route 66 and the SF Railroad all the way from Newberry to Victorville.
Where to Stay near Newberry Springs
Lodging close to Newberry Springs: Barstow:
>> Book your Hotel in nearby Barstow
More Lodging Near Newberry Springs along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to Newberry Springs, California
Heading East.... In California
- 124 miles Needles
Further East.... In Arizona
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in California...
>> Check out the RV campground in Newberry Springs
Weather in Newberry Springs
Newberry Springs is located in the Mojave Desert and has a "mild desert climate" with very dry and hot weather.
Winter average temperatures (Jan) are low: high 60.7°F (16°C) and the low is quite cold: 36°F (2.2°C). The summer (Jul), high is a searing: 104.2°F (40.1°C) and the average low is a pleasant 73.3°F (22.3°C).
Newberry Springs's rainfall is 4.1 in. year (145 mm) during 30 rainy days every year (there are 281 sunny days per year). Snow never falls in Newberry Springs. The dry months are April, May and June with less than 0.15 in. per month (3.8 mm), more rainfall takes place during July and Nov. through March with 0.4 to 0.6 in. per month (10 - 15 mm.). Expect thunderstorms during summer.
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.
Newberry Springs is located well to the west of the Rocky Montains, so there is no risk of any tornados in this area.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Newberry Springs
You can reach the ghost town driving along old Route 66 which here is named "Old National Trails Highway". Also from I-40 at Exit 18.
Map of Route 66 in Newberry Springs
Map of Newberry Springs and US Highway 66, California.
The map below shows the different alignments of Route 66 near Newberry Springs and the color key is for Newberry Springs 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 at Newberry that can be driven.
See Route 66's alignment in California Map
Remove or restore State shading
Route 66's alignment in California: the Historic Route 66 through Newberry Springs
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 Newberry Springs
Sights and Attractions in Newberry Springs, California
What to Do, Places to See
Newberry Springs and its Route 66 attractions
"The Water Town"
Newberry Springs' attractions include the cabins, store and service station known as Cliff House; the Henning Motel nexto to movie-famous Bagdad Cafe and the Whiting Brothers (Dry Creek) Service Station. Other Route 66 icons are Poes Café and the Mojave Water Camp.
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Newberry Springs
In 1946 Jack DeVere Rittenhouse drove along Route 66 compiling plenty of information for his ground-breaking "Guide Book to Highway 66". Thanks to him we have a good idea of what US 6 was like in those days. Below is what he had to say about Newberry Springs:
"Nestling at the foot of the cliffs of Newberry Mountain is the single establishment which comprises this town: a gas station with a café, grocery, several tourist cabins, and a post office. Behind the café is a small swimming pool, closed during the war but now to be reopened".
The village had 52 inhabitants in those days.The "Café" that he mientions, is no other than the "Cliff House" whose "Cafe" sold "cigars, Tobacco & Cold Drinks":
44544 National Trails Hwy, Newberry Springs
The famous "Cliff House" located at the foot of the steep Newberry Mountain cliffs, in a shady spot in the desert among the trees was built in the 1930s.
It was a gas station, café and also had cabins for the weary travellers. The place had a post office and general store.
The Greyhound and Continental Trailways buses stopped there too.
Later it was known as "Newberry Market" and "The Post Office", now it is "Deel Plumbing Heating".
It also had a swimming pool, which was a plus in a desert location like Newberry Springs.
A vintage ca.1920s photograph of old Cliff House in Newberry Sprgs.
View of the former Cliff House building nowadays
Across the road, on the north side of Route 66 is an Abandoned Service Station , with a flat roofed canopy double bayed filling area without its pumps.
Abandoned Service Station
Head eastwards along Old Route 66 to visit the main sights in Newberry Springs: Former Henning Motel, Bagdad Cafe and the old "Whiting Brothers (Dry Creek) Service Station:
2.4 mi. east of the Cliff House (Map with Directions), you will come across all three attractions on the north (to your left) side of US 66:
Next to the Bagdad Cafe (west)
The old motel which stood there for many years was demolished recently and all traces of the building are gone except for the old sign, still standing rusting in the desert.
The motel's sign appeared in the opening scenes of the film "Bagdad Cafe" (the still below is from the movie, see the trailer - the sign appears on sec. 12.):
The Henning Motel Sign in the opening scenes of the film Bagdad Cafe
Henning Motel Sign by Marc Cooper
See the photo of Bagdad Cafe above.
Next to the motel's site is the famous "Bagdad Cafe":
Bagdad Cafe a movie and a place on Route 66
The Film: "Bagdad Cafe"
The "town" of Bagdad had disappeared in the early 1970s, but it inspired the setting of the movie. As the original Bagdad Cafe had been demolished, the film was shot at the nearby town of Newberry Springs, at the Sidewinder Cafe.
The motel that was next to the Café where Jasmine took her room, was the Henning Motel, which as we pointed out above, is now razed.
The old Sidewinder Cafe quickly cashed in on its move fame and switched its name to "Bagdad Cafe" in 1995.
Jasmine (Marianne Sagebrecht) a well built German woman with a very rigid mindset, storms out of her husband's car in the middle of the Mojave Desert, ending their horrible American vacation and their marriage. She walks up to a cafe and asks Brenda (CCH Pounder), the angry owner for lodging -Brenda has reasons for her short temper: she has a lazy husband, Sal (G. Smokey Campbell) who gives her no help, and neither do her piano-playing son (Sal Jr., played by Darron Flagg) or her rebel daugher Pyllis (Monica Calhoun).
Jasmine's Teutonic mind is struck by the dirt and run-down appearance of the place and sets out to clean it all, starting in her room and gradually encompassing the motel and truck-stop.
But the easygoing hinterland setting also relaxes Jasmine, whose starched personality softens and magic arppears literally, taming the bellicose Brenda and charming all the colorfull characters that frequent the cafe:
Theser characters are: Rudi Cox (Jack Palance) who lives in a trailer next to the motel, a former Hollywood set painter a tattoo artist, Deby (Christine Kaufmann), the local sheriff Arnie (Apesanahkwat) an ndian cook, Cahuenga (George Aquilar).
The Soundtrack includes the famous song by Jevetta Steele, "Calling You".
Bagdad Cafe movie poster, Credits
108 minutes (German), 95 minutes (US). 1987
Director Percy Adlon
Screenplay Percy Adlon.
Produced by: Percy Adlon and Dietrich von Watzdorf.
Music: Bob Telson.
Awards and nominations: 1988: won Best Foreign Language Film at the 23rd Guldbagge Awards, 1988: won Bavarian Film Award Best Screenplay, 1988: won Ernst Lubitsch Award, 1989: nominated for the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song (Bob Telson for the song "Calling You"), 1989: won Amanda Best Foreign Feature Film, 1989: won Artios Best Casting for Feature Film, Comedy, 1989: won Cesar Best Foreign Film.
Marianne Sägebrecht as Jasmin Münchgstettner
C. C. H. Pounder as Brenda
Jack Palance as Rudi Cox
Summary The film (also known as "Out of Rosenheim") is a charming dramatic-comedy set in the remote Mojave Desert focused on two very strong women, obvious opposites, who are rebuilding their lives after separating from their respective partners.
Star Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 4 ⁄5
A Review of Bagdad Cafe
"Magic in the Desert" by A. Whittall, Written on June 15, 2016
Review. The move is a witty combination of despair, unpaid bills, magic, anger and mental rigidity that soften and morph into friendship. Where Old World meets America and the fraying American Dream is insuflated new life by the magic of love, sincere feelings and empathy.
See the photo of Bagdad Cafe above.
To your right, 0.2 miles east of the café are the fenced-off remains of a former Whiting Brothers Gas Station, known as "Dry Creek".
Whiting Brothers (Dry Creek) Service Station
The service statoin dates back to 1951, and was a Whiting Bros. Station (unit #45) until it closed around the time that I-40 bypassed Newberry Springs (early 1970s).
Apparently it first functioned as Tony's Cafe offering Italian American dishes, and then was a service station. In 1982 it was bought by Mary and Henry McGee, and remains there, nostalgic of its former glory.
It was built with railroad ties, plastered with stucco and its canopy was crowned by a wood slat sign which was later repainted to read "Dry Creek Station", apparently by a movie crew shooting a filme there. It may be the film "Happenstance" featuring Greg Lewis and Amy Wheaton, directed by Don Campbell (1993).
Don't miss the original gas pumps frozen in time with gasoline at dirt cheap 1970s prices. They were manufactured by Bennet Co. and the gas was "leaded" and included 11 cents tax.
Whiting Brothers Service Station
Four Whiting brothers (Arthur, Earnest, Eddie and Ralph) founded the company in 1926 and saw it grow to over 100 filling stations plus motels and truck stops from California to Texas. Many of them were located along Route 66 where you can still see the remains of those that were abandoned:
The The Moriarty Service Station (Moriarty NM) was the #72 and opened in 1954. By the mid-1980s the company folded and sold off or closed the service stations. But #72 was bought by an employee, opening the Sal & Inez Service Station, which is still operating.
The "Dry Creek" (Whiting Bros.) Service Staion in Newberry Springs
Tours & Itineraries
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
The cave (also known as Schuilling Cave) was discovered in 1933, and excavated by scientists in 1953. It was occupied by humans as far back as 3,500 years ago.
Stone arrowheads, flakes and wood shafts have been recovered as well as unique "split-twig figurines" which represent deer and bighorn sheep, and they were woven from twigs.
The cave has many pictographs (rock art painted on the cave's walls with mineral pigments in red, black, white and green, which is a very unusual and rare color. They are among the oldest rock art in North America.
Its location is not divulged to avoid vandalism but if you use google maps you can find it. The hike is over rough, steep ground. Don't touch anything. Leave no trace. Here are some photos of the paintings.
Poes Café and the Mojave Water Camp
Head east from Newberry Cliff 9.6 miles (Map).
The 1939 WPA guide mentions two sites between Pisgah crater and Newberry: "MOJAVE WATER CAMP, 136.6 m. and GUYMAN, 137 m., each has its small knot of sun-bleached buildings". They were 9.9 and 9.5 miles east of Newberry Springs.
Poe's Cafe sign, bleaching in the Mohave. A. Whittall (click to enlarge)
Rittenhouse also mentions two spots to the east of Newberry Springs in his 1946 book, "A Guide Book to Highway 66": one of them is described as "gas station, with café, few cabins, and garage", located 33 miles from Barstow. The other one is "similar, but lacking a garage", which is 32 miles from Barstow.
Now nothing remains of the original places, but we can locate where they once stood. They are now private properties.
Route 66 north and Center Rd. side of the road
It was also named "Desert Oasis" and had a Café and a Service Station selling Richfield brand gasoline. Vintage postcard of the Desert Oasis.
This is another postcard, but it now bears the name of "Poe's Cafe and Continental Bus stop" it is from 1949. (see postcard).
It must be the spot named Guyman by the WPA.
Just east of former Poe's, (about 1,150 ft - 350 m), on the south side of Route 66 is an old sun-bleached metal sign post that used to inform westbound tourists that Poe's was up ahead, it is shown above.
The Mojave Water Camp
0.5 mi west of Poe's, north side of US 66
This is its Street View.
In this 1939 postcard, you can see the "Mojave Water Camp" which says its 30 miles east of Barstow and shows us that it sold Shell gasoline.
Head further east to see a volcano:
20 mi. from Newberry Springs. See this Map with Directions.
Named after Mount Nebo whidh in the biblical book of Deuteronomy is named Pisgah.
The crater is 2,545 ft. (776 m) high and stands over 350 ft. above the surrounding terrain (108 m). It is a cinder cone, of volcanic origin and caps a lava flow known as Lavic field.
It has been quarried (and lost some 100 ft. -30 m in height in the process) to obtain ballast for the Santa Fe Railroad and therefore lost its former conical shape.
Its base is around 1,600 ft (488 m) diameter, and the cone has several caves.
The volcano has erupted several times, forming the Lavic volcanic field some 13,000 to 23,000 years ago. The cone resulted in its last eruptive event. The lava flows were quite extensive reaching 11 mi west and 5 mi south (11 and 8 km).
The Alignment of Old Route 66 in Newberry Springs
From Amboy to Newberry Springs
As mentioned above, the first road through Newberry Springs was the National Old Trails (N.O.T.) road. It was built to link Los Angeles with New York in the early 1910s and built following the Santa Fe Railroad from Barstow to Needles.
The road, from Ludlow to Newberry Springs originally headed west from Ludlow Cafe on the south side of what is now I-40 for 1.3 miles, after which it is now buried under I-40, continuing on the north side as the National Trails Hwy., you will have to head to the north of I-40 at Exit 50, take a left and go west.
At Lavic (8.5 mi.) the National Trails Highway crosses to the south side of I-40 and turns right (west) at Lavic Rd. it crosses to the south of the SF railroad (level crossing at 11 mi.) and runs beside the Lavic Lava Field, a black jumble of basalt to your left.
It keeps to the south of both railway and Interstate, all the way into Newberry Springs 31.6 miles from Ludlow.
> > See the previous segment Amboy to Ludlow (east)
> > See the next segment Ludlow to Barstow (west)
Outdoors, National and State Parks
Pisgah Crater in the Lavic Lake volcanic field
To the east of Newberry Springs (Read above how to reach Pisagh Crater)
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.