The Ft. Cady grade crossing ran along the right side of the power poles.
To enlarge the above photograph, click on the image.
Ft. Cady's Missing Railroad X-ing
And Newberry's Depleting Water
Posted: November 1, 2023
Newberry Springs Community Alliance
by Ted Stimpfel
The Choo-choo company who could, did!
Once upon a time, not so long ago,
there was a railroad grade-crossing in the little hamlet of Newberry
Springs. It was marked public on the railroad charts and it was publicly
loved as an easy access to and from home for hundreds of people. This
easement of convenience existed for many decades... until a railroad
decided no more!
The crossing was located on Fort Cady Road and it served
so many residents commuting to and from Route 66 that the federal
government spent millions of dollars building an Interstate overpass
and on and off-ramps on Interstate-40 to serve Fort Cady Road.
The above photograph faces north on Fort Cady Road
and shows a man (see enlargement) walking north on the north side of
the rail tracks. He had previously walked over the rails where the
crossing existed. So, even with the grade crossing removed, residents
are still crossing the tracks as a direct route to the service station's
store on the south side.
Also, shown in the above picture is a 4,000-gallon water
truck that is leaving a railroad-drilled water well that is located to the
left of the bushes in the photo. The site has a holding pond and a large
BNSF's Newberry Springs well site. Click on the photo to enlarge.
The truck is one of a reported 8 to 13 leased water
trucks that are daily transporting Newberry's water to a railroad
construction project east of Ludlow. The trip from the Newberry Springs'
well to the construction site is approximately 35 miles.
Click the map of the water truck route to Ash Hill to enlarge.
BNSF is building an auxiliary railbed to improve rail
capacity from near Bagdad, climbing 13 miles westward to the top of Ash Hill
which is about 6 miles east of Ludlow. Near the top of Ash Hill, BNSF has
built another open pond where the truckloads of water are dispensed.
The water is then drawn for dust suppression.
I traveled to Bagdad on the morning of October 27th,
passing the dirt road turnoff that the water trucks take to the Ash Hill
construction site. There appeared to be at least a dozen water trucks
operational. Using the math of 12 trucks making the usual 5 trips a day,
that's 240,000 gallons of water per day that is being pumped from Newberry's
water table. That is nearly 3/4 acre-feet daily.
A popular lunch spot for the water truck drivers is Ludlow's Dairy Queen.
A communication with the Mojave Water Agency (MWA) found
that with the numerous BNSF land parcels in the Baja subbasin, the
railroad is within its pumping limits and anything over will be billed
by the MWA for replacement water. Whether Newberry will receive anything
The amount of water that is being pumped from Newberry
Springs is being self-reported to the MWA by the railroad. A question is
why is BNSF being allowed to remove the water from the basin, which is
illegal for everyone else?
As to whether the Fort Cady Road grade crossing will
be replaced, it is unlikely unless the area's residents start clambering
A Fort Cady crossing represents life-saving time for
first responders, it represents greatly enhanced access to Interstate-40,
and it represents increased property values, all of which were lost with
the crossing's removal.
With the community's passive low energy level, the
current momentum for a replacement crossing isn't enough. If you desire
a crossing, let the Newberry CSD know by calling or e-mailing.
Newberry Community Services District
Wednesday thru Friday Noon to 4 P.M.
(760) 257-3613 • email@example.com
Chart shows the Ft. Cady crossing as public.
The circa 1960 railroad chart is courtesy of the Bob Berkman library.