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Thread: Route 66 Adventures (California)

  1. #11
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    Upon leaving Cajon Pass US 66 passes into the higher portions of the Mojave Desert. At the very top of the Cajon Pass on Mariposa Road is the old US 66 diner called The Summit Inn. The Summit Inn was opened in 1952 and has remained as an authentic diner of the era probably owing to the fact that it has US 66 heritage and is located within clear sight of I15. What will be immediately apparent is the number of Joshua Trees that grow at the higher elevations of the Desert. The Joshua Tree is not actually a tree but instead a Yucca which in plain English is a bush. This portion of US 66 follows I15 through Hesperia and into the last vestiges of urban Southern California in Victorville.

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  2. #12
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    In Victorville US 66 diverges greatly from the modern northeast alignment of I15 towards Barstow. Instead US 66 diverts down 7th Street, over to D Street before become signed as National Trails Highway just outside of Victorville. On D Street is the California Route 66 Museum which is probably the largest and most well known of the US 66 museums in California. The National Trails Highway was a precursor route to US 66 and the name was adopted by the state of California in several sections after the highway was decommissioned in 1984. This section continues in over an old steel bridge over the Mojave River north to north east path to Barstow after passing through pictures of the towns of Oro Grande, Helendale, Hodge and Lenwood. This section is known as the Lenwood Bypass. By far the most significant town on the Lenwood Bypass is Oro Grande. Oro Grande has a Antique store that sells old Route 66 items and signs. Among the buildings I thought was interesting was the long abandoned Mohawk Gas Station as it shows a gallon of gas only at $1 dollar.

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  3. #13
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    More photos from the Lenwood bypass.

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  4. #14
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    Upon entering Barstow, US 66 starts branching East again along Main Street. Barstow is the western terminus of Interstate 40 which, largely has replaced US 66 for about half of its alignment. Barstow has its own Route 66 Museum called the Mother Road Museum built from an old Harvey House which served as hotels and rail depots on 1st Avenue just to the north of US 66. Barstow is a major railroad freight town and much of the old infrastructure has been deteriorating for almost 30 years. This is becomes more evident passing through the towns of Daggett and Newberry Springs. As US 66 leaves Barstow, it follows I40 as a frontage road signed once again as the National Trails Highway.

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  5. #15
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    Newberry Springs is notable as the location as the modern Bagdad Café which was a notable stopping point along the US 66 in the deeper reaches of the Mojave. The Bagdad Café was originally the Sidewinder Café but was the film location of said movie which was about the real Bagdad Café that was located to the east in Bagdad before the Interstate system. As US 66 leaves Barstow, it follows I40 as a frontage road signed once again as the National Trails Highway.

    On a side note, Daggett was founded as an ore station for the ghost town of Calico. In fact Daggett was originally known as Calico Station when it was founded due to its location south of Calico on the Santa Fe Railroad. Calico was a silver mining town that was founded in 1881 when I silver deposit was found in the mountains outside present day Barstow, CA. In the late 1800s Calico was the largest California producer of silver in the entire state. The town reached a peak population of 3,500 people in 1890. The price of silver dropped in the 1890s and Calico was completely abandoned by 1907. The town site was occupied again in 1915 when a cyanide plant opened to process all the remaining silver deposits in the mines. In 1951 the town was purchased privately and was restored to its original condition and opened as a tourist park. The town and park were turned over to San Bernardino County in 1966 subsequently becoming a California State Monument. The town had a sustained population until 1981... To reach Calico from Daggett take Dagget/Yermo road about 6 miles north until it turns into Ghost Town Road.

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  6. #16
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    Upon reaching the town of Ludlow, US 66 merges back with I40. However the original US 66 Route is very different that the straighter I40 Route through the Bristol Mountains. US 66 continues slightly south east while I40 continues more directly East through the edges of the Mojave National Preserve. This section is 75 miles long and carries an infamous family trip story from 1957. According to my Mom, she went on a family trip that included a drive home on old US 66. When this portion of the Mojave was reached a cooled silk bag of water had to be placed on the front her aunt’s car so it could be used in an emergency to cool the radiator if the water boiled. Each town along this section carried bags of water that made the trip through possible; the bags are now collectible items.
    This section of US 66 was part of the National Trail Highway which largely followed the wagon routes and the railway lines. The Santa Fe Railroad still diverts through this section and named most of the towns. Some of the towns are still there but others are gone; in order they were named Amboy, Bristol, Cadiz, Danby, Essex, Fenner, Goffs, Homer, Jaba and Ibis. Eventually several over towns and stopping points popped up on this section of US 66 when the road became more prevalent, most are now gone. When I40 was being proposed one of the plans to bypass this section was called Operation Plowshare which would have cleared the path through the Bristol Mountains using nuclear bombs. Someone eventually decided this wasn’t a good idea and I40 was built the more conventional way.

    Starting Southeast past Ludow the first ruins that are encountered are a shell of a building near the rail tracks on the north side of the road. This is all that remains of the town of Siberia. Continues a couple more miles east there is a lone tree on the north side of the road along with a graded dirt field. This is all that remains of the town of Bagdad, the home of the original Bagdad Café. There is still a sign next to the railroad that indicates the town of Bagdad being present. This town along with the others on this spur died a quick death in 1973 when I40 opened in California, taking most of the traffic with it. Nothing remains of Bagdad due to a piping company demolishing the town site in the early 90s to store pipes.


    From Bagdad a field of black rock along with a large black hill become visible. This is the Amboy Crater and the lava flow of an eruption about 6,000 years ago. Apparently the lava field is so difficult to traverse that the Air Force left the remains of a crashed fighter jet as it could not be recovered. Off the in the distance to the east is the Bristol Dry Lake and the town of Amboy.

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  7. #17
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    Amboy used to have population around 60 people and was founded back in 1858. The current population is only 2 people and for all intents and purposes it’s a ghost town. Most people have seen Amboy in movies however as Roy’s Café was used in several movies most notably the Hitcher. This is one of the few places east of Ludow you can get gas, albeit at about $5 dollars a gallon for regular unleaded! The Café was reopened back in 2007 and I think it now serves coffee. The salt pan close to the town is the Bristol Dry Lake. I know the whole town was purchased a couple years ago for $425,000 dollars.

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  8. #18
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    On a side trip north from US 66 on Kelbaker road about 30 miles takes you to the Mojave National Preserve. The Preserve is run by the National Parks Service and consists has the largest Joshua Tree Forest in the world. The preserve also has some old railroad towns like Kelso and Cima. Kelso is the Preserve headquarters after the Kelso Depot was restored. Nearby is the 600 foot Kelso Dunes along Kelbaker Road.

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  9. #19
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    Continuing east to Chambless the remains of the Road Runner’s Retreat can be seen on the South side of US 66. I’m not sure when the Road Runner Retreat opened but I’ve seen pictures of it when it was an operating gas station and rest stop in the 50s. I’m relatively certain it dates back to the 1940s and seems to be one of the more popular stops (or was) on the Mojave section of US 66. Chambless still has 6 residents, most living on the north side of US 66. Cadiz is located slightly to the south of US 66 as has an airstrip that is used by a water management company. I’m not sure if anyone actually lives in Cadiz, it doesn’t look like.

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  10. #20
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    Continuing east for a couple miles there is a small by steep hill that leads to the ruins of Cadiz Summit. Cadiz Summit wasn’t really a town but rather a travel center of its day. Originally the Mojave section of US 66 used to follow the Santa Fe railroad to the south by a couple miles to avoid the grades of the mountains. When US 66 was first paved the alignment took it away from the railroad and tilted towards away from the town of Cadiz. The travel center building fell into disrepair over the years and eventually was stripped down to the concrete skeleton seen today. The graffiti on the building is actually most well down and has a lot of Route 66 motifs. About a mile east of the Cadiz Summit ruins is a very aged historic marker on the ruins of a rest stop that describes the story of US 66 in the Mojave.

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