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Newberry Springs

Last Updated: . By Austin Whittall

written by human, not by AI

Site of Bagdad Cafe

The community of Newberry Springs is well known for several classic Route 66 landmarks that we have listed below, but especially for being the world famous Bagdad Cafe, location of a movie shot in 1989 at the former Sidewinder Cafe.

Route 66 landmarks in Newberry Springs

Another local landmark is the Rock Art at Newberry Cave (you'll have to find it first) and Pisgah Crater and Lavic Lake volcanic field. Don't miss the "Pistachio Festival" during November.

Stop at Newberry Springs California during your Route 66 Road Trip!

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Lenwood ¦ Barstow ¦ Daggett

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Ludlow ¦ Bagdad ¦ Amboy

The Bagdad Cafe in Newberry Springs, on Route 66

steep gable roof cafe painted red, the famous Bagdad Cafe in Newberry Springs, Route 66 California
The movie-famous Bagdad Cafe in Newberry Springs CA. Source

Route 66 in Newberry Springs CA

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About Newberry Springs California

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation 1,831 ft (558 m). Population 2,763 (2020).
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.

The History of Newberry Springs, California

Visit our Barstow web page to learn more about the early history of this area.

Mojave River

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.
It is a source of water used by the desert animals and plants, and also by those crossing the Mojave since prehistoric times.

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.

river with trees and grasses, water. Hills in the distance
Mojave River near Helendale CA. Source

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.

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 when California became a part of the U.S. It crossed the Mojave to the north of what is now Newberry Springs more or less following the course of the Mohave river.

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.

Railroad in Newberry Springs

By 1883, the railroad had reached the area, in a transcontinental link. 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 1893) that a key railroad depot and station was established: Newberry Springs a valuable source of water for the railway's steam locomotives, that needed to be replenished with it to generate the steam that powered them.

The Name, Newberry Springs

According to one version, the 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 its first postmaster, Josiah Watson. It closed shortly after and reopened in 1899 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) renamed the place "Water" due to its importance as a water source.

Finally in 1967 its name was changed again to "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.

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. AStromantianite mine had opened east of Newberry Springs, at Argos (a rare carbonate mineral and one of only a few strontium minerals). Lavic was passed by 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. 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. It was evident that 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. advertisement

Where to Stay near Newberry Springs

There is no accommodation in Newberry Springs. But there is also lodging close to Newberry Springs in neighboring Barstow:

> > Book your Hotel in Barstow

More Lodging Near Newberry Springs along Route 66

Below you will find a list some of the towns along Route 66 east and west of Newberry Springs; click on any of the links to find your hotel in these towns.

Heading West

Heading East

You are so close to Las Vegas!

Book your hotel in Barstow

>> Check out RV campground in Newberry Springs

The Weather in Newberry Springs

Route 66 in Newberry Springs CA; location map

Location of Newberry Springs on Route 66

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.

Extreme Heat and Dehydration Warning

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 how to keep healthy in hot temperatures.

Tornado risk

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.

Map of Route 66 in Newberry Springs

Old map from 1915 Barstow to Ludlow

1915 Road map, Barstow to Ludlow CA
Click on image to enlarge.

The first alignment of Route 66 in 1926

The first highway to reach Newberry Springs was an Auto trails one, built in the 1910s, a dirt track. It had a winding course, poor marking if any and it lacked bridges.
You can see its alignment in the thumbnail map (click on it to enlarge it) and the map below; both show Newberry Springs as "Newberry".

Old map from 1927 West CA

1927 Road map, western CA
Click on image to enlarge.

Old map from 1926 West CA

1926 Road map, western CA
Click on image to enlarge.

The map above (from 1926) -click on thumbnail to see large size map- shows the Highway as U.S. 60! Read why Route 66 was almost named Route 60.
This map is the first to show the alignment of a U.S. highway in Western California.

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 Newberry 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 station, 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.

Route 66 alignment Ludlow to Newberry Springs

Initially U.S. 66 was aligned along the N.O.T. roadway but in the early 1930s it was straightened, shortened and paved. The first alignment near Newberry Springs had a different course to the current one, it is marked with burgundy line in our custom map, and it shows the N.O.T. alignment that became the U.S. 66 one from 1926 to 1931.

The 1931 alignment of Route 66

road map of Newberry Spgs area black and white 1934

1934 map of Route 66 in Newberry Spgs. Source. Click to enlarge

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 and is cut by the freeway, see the orange line in our custom map. It continues 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.

Ahead, at Argos there is another gap where the original highway curved to the south at a wash, we marked it with a pink line in our custom map.

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. The gap here is marked with a green line in our custom map.

It keeps to the south of both railway and Interstate, all the way into Newberry Springs 31.6 miles from Ludlow.

This is the modern alignment of US 66 that can be driven from Ludlow to Newberry Springs.

Route 66 Alignment near Newberry Springs

With maps and full information on the Mother Road.

Getting to Newberry Springs

You can reach the ghost town driving along old Route 66 which here is named "Old National Trails Highway" westwards from Amboy or Ludlow. Also from I-40 at Exit 18. advertisement

Attractions in Newberry Springs, the "Water Town"

Newberry Springs and its Route 66 attractions

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 66 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 Rittenhouse (1946)

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".

The WPA's 1939 California guide describes the area as follows, note that it is Newberry without the Springs suffix (1):

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 refreshing 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. WPA (1939)

US 66 Road Trip leg in Newberry Springs

Driving west from Ludlow after 15.2 miles you will reach a black basalt field and a low volcanic cone to the left of the highway (Map with directions).

Pisgah Crater and the Lavic Lake volcanic field

low black basaltic volcano in a lava field

Pisgah volcano and lava field, Route 66. Source

It consists of a lava flow and a volcano, similar to the one at Amboy Crater.

Named after Mount Nebo, that in the biblical book of Deuteronomy is called "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. or 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).

Six miles west of the volcano you will again meet the long lava flow and cross it. For the next two miles there are black rocks strewn in the sand on both sides of the highway. Just beyond the lava flow's western edge is the site of some classic service stations and cafes that have vanished long ago.

Two long gone service stations, cabins and cafes

The WPA guide mentions these stops as follows: "MOJAVE WATER CAMP, 136.6 m. and GUYMAN, 137 m., each has its small knot of sun-bleached buildings." The mileage from the US66 bridge in Topock means theat these two stops were respectively 9.9 and 9.5 miles east of Newberry Springs.

Rittenhouse also mentions two spots to the east of Newberry Springs in his 1946 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", that was 32 miles from Barstow.

Unfortunately nowadays nothing remains of these sites but we know where they were. Both are now private properties. There was some name changes too, over the years, to add some confusion!

Mojave Water Camp ❌

Oscar Louis Hoerner (1887-1964) and his wife Mabel Evangeline Baxter (1891-1979) moved to California from their native Kansas with their children and homesteaded on the N.O.T. highway close to Hector in 1926. The drilled a well and hit water, though tainted with soda, it was the only source of drinkable water between Newberry and Danby. They built a small stop that evolved into a Shell gas station, cafe, and cabins. The 1934 roadmap further up marks the Mojave Water camp on the north side of Route 66 with lobes of the lava field around it, and Hector railroad depot to the northeast (2)(3) (4).

Oscar discovered a bentonite mine and staked a claim on it. This ensured a prosperous life for the family in Newberry where he lived until his death.

black and white, 1939, gable roof building with stone chimney and canopy over gas pumps, Shell station, more buildings behind and right, Cafe, hills in the distsance, truck to the right
1939 photo, Mojave Water Camp Highway 66, Thirty Miles East of Barstow. Source

These buildings in the photo above were on the north side of the highway.

The BLM sponsored archaeological dig at the site and has found a refuse deposit with artifacts from the old site dating back to the late 1940s to early 1950s such as "embossed and ACL soda bottles, a toilet tank lid,and lithographed cans" and described the spot as "a small garage to fix minor repairs, a general store (for purchasing snacks, cold drinks, and perhaps souvenirs), and cabins for overnight stays."


After striking big money with the bentonite, tThe Hoerners sold the Water Camp to the Shores and after different owners over the next few yewars, Edgar Allen "Ed" Poe bought it and renamed it Poe's Cafe (5).

Poes Café ❌

Ed Poe modernised the buildings as you can see in the postcard below, with its picture taken in 1949 captioned "Poe's Cafe and Continental Bus stop" it looks towards the Northeast and shows the Shell station and Cafe on the north side of the highway.

black and white 1940s white single story block shaped cafe with POES CAFE sign on roof, 4 cars and Shell gas signpost
Poe's Cafe late 1940s. Source. Click image to enlarge

Another view of Poe's in the 1940s notice how the building has a sign reading "Mojave Water Camp", this one looks towards the northwest. Notice those classic Shell gas pumps.

black and white 1940s white single story block shaped cafe with POES CAFE sign, woman standing by pump island with 3 Shell pumps
Poe's Cafe 1940s. Source. Click image to enlarge

Ed's son Ed Poe Jr. confirmed that there were buildings on both sides of the highway and that "the well and high water tower and our motel was on the south side. Dad also built two more concrete slab foundations on each side of the existing motel so there would have been three buildings in all in the form of an arch" (6).

This aerial photo from 1959 confirms Ed Poe's recollections, as it shows the semicircle drive behind the tank, and buildings on the north side of the highway. The current satellite view of the spot shows the semicircle and the foundation slabs.

Looking north across US66 to Poe's c.1940s

black and white 1940s wood tower topped by a water tank, child at its foot beyond is US66 and white single story buildings, cars parked
Water Tank and Poe's Cafe and Station 1940s. US66 Newberry Spgs. Source

The old tank has survived; it was moved to the McDonalds on the eastern side of Barstow, and stands on the back part of the property sporting the restaurant's logo. Below has two views of the tank, the thumbnail view from the 1960s also shows the motel units (left) and the sign with an arrow that reads "Cafe & Motel" in white letters on a green background, that has survived till now (Same view nowadays).

color, 1960s. Man by red sports car, Route 66 behind, and beyond a wood water tank atop a timber tower, desert shrubs, buildings in the distance and cafe sign to the right

1960s view Poe's tank, sign and motel. Source. Click to enlarge

water tank painted red with McDonalds logo in a parking lot, color 2023

Old Poe's water tank in Barstow's McDonald's on US66. Click for St. view

sun bleached green sign in the desert, faded and peeling with white letters
Poe's Cafe Sign bleaching in the Mojave. Click for St. View

Desert Oasis ❌

Poe's became the Desert Oasis, that switched to Richfield gasoline, but otherwise left the building unchanged as you can see in the 1950s image below captioned "Desert Oasis - Hwy. 66 - 30 miles E. of Barstow":

black and white 1950s box shaped,flat roofed cafe and gas station with two wings no canopy and on pump island with 3 pumps. Trees behind US 66 in front
The Desert Oasis Cafe and Filling Station. Newberry Springs. Source
newspaper article facsimile 1952

Route 66. Source. Click to enlarge

Poe sold his business in 1952. Later that same year, the San Bernardino County Sun reported that on September 11, 1952, a 33 year-old waitress that worked "in a restaurant at Poe's station, Calif." whose name was not revealed due to the nature of the crime, was abducted by Bob Jensen, 33, and raped by him. He had offered her a job in a restaurant he said he'd open in Newberry and she got into his car to go to the town to sign the employment contract. He raped her at gunpoint and drove her to Julian, close to San Diego where she managed to escape. Jensen fled but was shot dead by the state police in Pennsylvania on October 20, 1952 (7) (8).

A fire broke out on February 15, 1955 burning down four buildings: the service station, cafe, a cabin of the motel and a two-story storage unit. Built with railroad ties they burned easily, the property belonged to Robert Banks of Los Angeles (9).

On April 18, 1957 the "Desert Gas Station - Destroyed by Fire... the service station was destroyed ... and later threatened to engulf Poe's Cafe nearby" (10). James W. Ferguson purchased the cafe in 1963

Silver Valley Cafe ❌

The second cafe close to Hector mentioned by Rittenhouse was one mile closer to Barstow than the Mojave Water Camp and in comparison to it, was "similar, but lacking a garage." Ed Poe Jr. also recalled that "There was a small cafe and motel one mile west of us owned by Mr Bob Banks and his family" (6). Was this the same Robert Banks mentioned in the 1955 fire of Poe's?

The only other business in the area is the Silver Valley Cafe photographed by Burton Frasher and shown below.

black and white 2 story gable roof building, a Cafe, and an adjacent gable building and canopy Texaco right, captioned SILVER VALLEY CAFE c.1930s
Silver Valley Cafe c.1930s. Source
color, trees and some trailers in the desert, hills in the distance and US 66 to the right

Silver Valley Cafe site nowadays, Route 66 CA. Click for St. view

The location (1 mi. west) coincides with the property shown in this 1959 aerial photo, whose current street view can be seen in the thumbnaril image. The serrated mountains on the lower right side coincide with those depicted in the black and white photograph further up.

A matchcover from the 1950s reads "Smith's Silver Valley Station 30 Miles E. of Barstow CAFE-GAS-CABINS." (11).

Continue west for 4.5 miles and you will cross Ft. Caddo Rd (I-40s ramps for Exit 23) and 1.5 miles ahead, at Oriente Dr. to your right (46850 N.O.T. Hwy) is a canopied building maybe a former gas station that can be seen in this aerial photo from 1959 and in this street view.

Just aheaed, to your right, on the north side of the highway is the westsernmost surviving Whiting Brothers site on Route 66.

"Dry Creek" Whiting Bros. Service Station

The service station 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).

American pop artist Edward Ruscha lived in Los Angeles and drove frequently along Route 66 (he was captivated by it). His 1963 book Twentysix Gasoline Stations depicts black and white pictures of 26 gasoline stations along Route 66 with the location and gas brand sold. One of them is this Whiting Bros station photographed in October 1962 shown below (detail), he captioned as "near Ludlow California", but actually it is much closer to Newberry Springs:

Edward Ruscha's Whiting Bros., near Ludlow, California 1963© (detail)

black and white photograph of a Whiting Bros gas station right, and some cars with US 66 running into the distance on the left, 1962 Newberry Spgs
Whiting Bros, Newberry 1963, © Ed Ruscha. Source

It began as a restaurant, Tony's Cafe, offering Italian American dishes (see picture below), and then it became a service station. In 1982 it was bought by Mary and Henry McGee, and remains there, nostalgic of its former glory.

Tony's at the Whiting Bros. station.

stucco wall with painted sign: Tony’cafe, canopy and white 1950s gas pump
Tony's Care at the Whiting Bros. gas station Newberry Springs CA

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 film there. It may be the film "Happenstance" featuring Greg Lewis and Amy Wheaton, directed by Don Campbell (1997), this is its Street View in 2012, and in 2021, slowly decaying in the unforgiving desert.

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. Below are some pictures that I took of it back in 2016:

Whiting Bros. Newberry Spgs.

old gas station, siign falling apart above flat canopy, car under it. Three pumps, office to the right
Remains of the Whiting Bros. gas station Newberry Springs CA

The Whiting Bros. gas pumps in Newberry Springs

3 vintage red and white gas pumps under a flat canopy falling apart, car without tires next to them
Vintage gas pumps at the Whiting Bros. gas station Newberry Springs CA

Just ahead, 900 feet to the west is Newberry Springs' best known landmark, Bagdad Cafe:

Bagdad Cafe

To your right, on the north side of the highway is a steep roofed building that was formerly the "Sidewinder Cafe" and that became famous after being filmed in the 1987 movie Bagdad Cafe. Below is a picture I took of it in 2016:

The Bagdad Cafe during our 2016 Road Trip:

Gable roof, shingle roof, red stucco building and gabled entrance, sign reads:Bagdad Cafe. Color, 2016
Bagdad Cafe as it looked in Sept. 2016 Newberry Springs California.

Adjacent to the cafe are the remains of a motel.

Henning Motel ❌

On the western side of the cafe was the old motel that stood there for many years and was demolished recently. All traces of the building are gone except for the neon sign, still standing and fading under the sun in the desert.

The motel's sign appeared in the opening scenes of the film "Bagdad Cafe" (the still below is from the movie's trailer where the sign appears on sec. 12.):

The Henning Motel Sign in the opening scenes of the film Bagdad Cafe

The Henning Motel sign, tall narrow, green, surrounded by sand and shrubs. US 66 and some hills to the left. A still from the opening scenes of the film Bagdad Cafe
The Henning Motel neon sign in a still from the opening scenes of the film Bagdad Cafe. Source

I took a picture of the neon sign too, and the trailer that was used in the movie as Jack Palance's home:

The old faded vertical Henning motel sign MOTEL written vertically on a green background panel, name in bottom panel

Henning Motel Sign in 2016. Austin Whittall

aluminium caravan - trailer in the desert, shrubs and sand

Bagdad Cafe Trailer. Austin Whittall. Click to enlarge

single story gable roof motel, vacant, gravel drive, bushes, hills beyond and neon sign in foreground by US66

2011 view Henning Motel on US66, Click for St. view

The Bagdad Cafe Movie

Bagdad, the inspiration for the movie

Bagdad is a ghost town about 50 miles east of Newberry Springs, along Route 66. It was this ghost town that inspired Percy Adlon, a German film producer and director. Aldon was attracted by the mysterious name "Bagdad" while driving in California with his wife and children during Christmas 1985: "We saw the name Bagdad on a map, and we went there and there was nothing: just a few trees and a rundown gas station" he said in an interview published in 2018 (12). Bagdad was gone but the place remained in the back of his mind and that spurred him to make a movie about this middle-aged Bavarian wife stranded in the dusty desert by a cafe and motel in the middle of nowhere.

The film was shot in 1987 50 miles away in Newberry Springs because by then nothing existed in Bagdad.

The film: Bagdad Cafe (1987)

Movie Plot

movie poster blue frame BAGDAD CAFE and a hand holding a plate with scenes and characters from the movie

Bagdad Cafe poster. Source. Click to enlarge

Bagdad Cafe, 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.

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:

These 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 Indian cook, Cahuenga (George Aquilar).


As mentioned furhter up the "town" of Bagdad had disappeared in the early 1970s and 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. As we pointed out above it was torn down.

The old Sidewinder Cafe quickly cashed in on its move fame and switched its name to "Bagdad Cafe" in 1995.

color movie still, woman with hat and coat by the side of highway in the desert

Still from the movie Bagdad Cafe, 1987. Source

color movie still, standing lady left with overcoat, hat and suitcase in the desert by a cafe and woman seated on the right in an old armchair

Still from the movie Bagdad Cafe, 1987. Source

Soundtrack and Movie Trailer

The movie's Soundtrack includes the famous song by Jevetta Steele, "Calling You".

See Trailer of Bagdad Cafe

The movie is 108 minutes long (German version) and 95 minutes (US version).

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.

Dirctor and Screenplay

Director Percy Adlon

Produced by: Percy Adlon and Dietrich von Watzdorf.
Music: Bob Telson.


Marianne Sägebrecht as Jasmin Münchgstettner

C. C. H. Pounder as Brenda

Jack Palance as Rudi Cox

My Review of Bagdad Cafe

The movie is simply "Magic in the Desert"; A witty combination of despair, unpaid bills, magic, anger, and rigid mental frames that soften and slowly turn into friendship. It is a barren spot where the Old World meets America and the fraying American Dream is insuflated a new life by the magic of love, sincere feelings, and empathy. I enjoyed it when I saw it back in 1988 and that joy has lingered on over the decades.

Cliff House

Drive west, and the black rocky hills to the left approach the highway. After 2.5 miles you will reach the original "Springs" area next to the Santa Fe railroad depot. This is where the town was born.

The site of the famous "Cliff House" is located on the left side of the highway (44544 N.O.T. Hwy).

Set at the foot of the steep Newberry Mountain cliffs, in a shady spot in the desert among the trees. It was built in the 1930s.

It had a gas station, café and also had cabins for the weary travellers. The place also had a post office and general store. 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.

Black and white 1920s photo: single story woodframe building with arches over gas pump, sign reads CABINS, two 1920s cars, steep dark hills behind the trees
Cliff House in a 1920s postcard, Newberry Springs. California. Source

The same spot nowadays

woodframe building, trees, steep cliffs behind
View of the old Cliff House in Newberry Springs nowadays. Click image for Street View

Other buildings in Newberry Springs

box shaped bldg, 2 service bays and boarded windows in corner office

Abandoned Gas station. Newberry Spgs. Click for Street View

Across the road, on the north side of Route 66 is the Route 66 Barn, a bar and a historic marker telling the history of the town. The tavern's advertising state it opened in 1952. The building appears in this 1959 aerial photograph. There are also two gas stations, but they must date back to the 1960s as they don't appear in this aerial picture. It had a long flat canopy until recently (2012), now onlty the box shaped boarded office and closed two-bay garage remain.

Continue your Road Trip

Your journey through Bagdad ends here. Continue your road trip by heading west towards Daggett.

Tours & Outdoors

Newberry Cave

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 crosses rough, abrupt and steep ground. Don't touch anything. Leave no trace. Here are some photos of the paintings. advertisement advertisement

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Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat
A Guide to the Golden State, by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration, Hastings House, New York, 1939.
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.

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