The National Trails Highway in southern California predates Route 66 by many years and it originally was a road dirt road carved through the Mojave Desert for wagons and horseless carriages. Since this travel route was well established, it was the natural choice for the Route 66 alignment, which came about in the 1920s. It did not take long for Route 66 culture to evolve even in this unforgiving desert region and by the time the golden years of Mother Road tourism were at a peak, modern amenities could be found in every little town that sprouted up along the way. Local economies boomed during that era, but it all came to a crashing halt when the modern interstate highway system completely bypassed old Route 66. Businesses locked their doors and many of the tiny towns were completely abandoned because the main source of income dried up.
There is a long section of Route 66 that meanders along the original National Trails Highway from Newberry Springs to Needles, California that is well worth traveling. From Newberry Springs heading east on Route 66, a visitor can experience several historic communities and natural attractions, which include Ludlow, Pisgah Crater, Amboy Crater, Roy's Café and the old army training base at Goffs, before looping around Highway 95 along the Colorado River to Needles. There are also several lesser known Route 66 townsites to discover as well, which include Bagdad and Chambliss, but these abandoned towns were completely razed soon after the Mother Road economy collapsed.
Newberry Springs is still very much alive in modern times and a few thousand people reside at this little spot on the map. The local Route 66 association has preserved many of the old original roadside artifacts and structures, in an effort to keep the Mother Road culture intact. The remnants of old tourist trap memorabilia and neon motel signs from the golden years can be seen while cruising through Newberry Springs and many unique nostalgic photo opportunities can be found in this place. This town also has a Hollywood claim to fame, because scenes from the movie Bagdad Café were actually filmed at a restaurant in Newberry Springs, since nothing remains in the original town of Bagdad. No grand tour of Route 66 would be complete without experiencing Newberry Springs, so be sure to check it out and spend a few dollars locally to keep the memories alive for future generations!
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