National Trails Highway, Bagdad, California
46548 National Trails Highway, Newberry Springs, California 92365
The movie Bagdad Cafe is a German movie, although it's in English, from 1987. The movie is about two recently separated women and their time in a remote area of the Mojave Desert, called Bagdad. Bagdad is a former town on Route 66, now long gone, after Route 66 was bypassed by Interstate 40. The town originally had a Bagdad Cafe, but this movie was filmed at the Sidewinder Cafe in Newberry Springs, about fifty miles west along Route 66. The Sidewinder Cafe, built in 1975, was officially renamed the Bagdad Cafe in 1995 when it was purchased by its current owners. Jack Palance even starred in the movie, and the movie suceeded in winning several awards.
The original town of Bagdad was located on Route 66 between Ludlow and Amboy. It was founded in 1883, but was sadly bypassed by Interstate 40 in 1973, resulting in the the entire town being razed in 1991. Bagdad is also know for having the record for the longest dry streak in the United States, having 767 straight rain-less days from October 3rd, 1912 to November 8th, 1914.
In Newberry Springs, you can still find the now renamed Bagdad Cafe, formerly Sidewinder Cafe. It is usually open daily, and does see some tourist traffic, especially tourists from France who apparently hold the movie as a cult classic. To the left of the cafe, there is an old motel sign for the Henning Motel. The actual motel has been closed and abandoned for years, with the actual structure razed sometime in 2015.
Additionally in town, there is another location with a significant amount of Route 66 branding, called The Barn, opened in 1952 at 44560 National Trails Highway. The Barn is a restaurant and bar, with their first menu item being The Route 66 Classic Burger.
Back in 2012, outside The Barn, the Clampers have placed a rather large historical plaque presenting a rather detailed history of Newberry Springs.
The history of Newberry Springs can be traced back more than 20,000 years. Digs at the Early Man Site north of here discovered tools dating prior to 20,000 BC. At that time, much of the land was covered by the prehistoric lake Manix. Then around 18,000 BC, a massive earthquake caused the lake to be drained through what is now known as Afton Canyon. Early humans are thought to have lived and hunted in the area where the swamps and marshes remained. Due to the availability of abundant water and food, the region has been inhabited through the centuries by various indigenous peoples. By tapping the Mojave Aquifer, modern man now enjoys the underground water source for both agriculture and recreation as seen in the area's manmade lakes.
Westbound explorers and settlers first discovered this desert oasis while following the old Indian routes. It was in 1885, shortly after the Santa Fe Railroad laid track here, that this site (then called simply, "Water") began to supply potable water for arrid points east, filling the tanks at section houses used by the steam locomotives. The advent of the automobile and Route 66 further helped the area to grow. The town, by then called Newberry, with its plentiful water supply was a welcome respite for travelers on Route 66. During its heyday in the 1950's Newberry boasted five gas stations, four motels, four garages, five cafes, three bars, one grocery store, a general store and even a public swimming pool. It was during this period that Walter Knott, of Knott's Berry Farm, contracted with the local farmers here to supply the chickens for his famous restaurant in Buena Park. In 1967 the name of the town was changed from Newberry to Newberry Springs as the original name was a cause of confusion and mail often ended up in Newberry Park, California.
The completion of Interstate 40 dealt a deathblow to Newberry Springs andmany other small towns along Route 66. Today Newberry Springs serves locals and adventurous people who wander off the interstate.
Plaque dedicated on May 6, 2012 by the Billy Holcomb Chapter of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus
Last Edited: 2020-11-29