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 generator.

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 is doubtful.

    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 for it.

    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 •

Chart shows the Ft. Cady crossing as public.
The circa 1960 railroad chart is courtesy of the Bob Berkman library.

Should you favor more news blogs,
please visit and LIKE our Facebook site.

Click here to read, "Like,"
comment, or share on:
Newberry Springs

Follow us on "Twitter" and
be notified of new stories:
Newberry Springs Community Alliance
Home page:

© 2023 Ted Stimpfel.   All rights reserved.