Mainline Relocation at Barstow, CA

The Waterman Spur

Picture Point of Interest

GOOGLE MAPS no longer available: With apologies, I am unable to continue showing Google Maps. Google has forced my hand by increasing their map usage fee from nothing/free to OVER $300 A MONTH for the Abandoned Rails website! This is an expense that I simply cannot afford. Rest assured I am looking at available open source alternatives, so maps should be back online soon!

Greg Harrison

The abandoned right-of-way begins at the end of the Waterman Spur, and heads west for a couple of miles before joining up with the new mainline relocation west of Barstow. Photo by Mike Palmer, August 1981.

This short abandoned segment, just north of Barstow, CA, once formed part of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway's mainline to central/northern California. The line branched off the ATSF (now BNSF) transcon line near downtown Barstow at the eastern end of the large railroad yard there, bridged the Mojave River, then headed west to the town of Mojave, where it joined the Southern Pacific on a route through the Tehachapi Mountains.

When a larger yard was built at Barstow in the 1970s, west of downtown, the connection to the Mojave line was moved several miles to the west end of the yard. A remnant of the old mainline remained as a stub-end spur, listed as the "Waterman Spur" on a railroad atlas, but the bridge over the Mojave River was removed. Satellite imagery shows that the spur, and consequently the entire former mainline, has since been removed.

Thanks to Mike Palmer for contributing information about this route.

lived near Barstow (Helendale) 1950-57. Steam was extinct so wye going towards dorland ave was not needed for turning, but was stuffed with boxcars and other rusting junk all those years

dan ainsworth
pismo beach, LA


The spur to Dorland Drive was used into the late 60's to offload Army equipment for Fort Irwin. I lived on a nearby street and can remember tanks and trucks coming off the ramp at the end of the spur. The equipment could be left unattended for days. The tank hatches were not secured and sometimes they became a playground for the local kids. I still remember the day the ATSF railroad detectives came visiting the neighborhood, claiming a machine gun shipped inside a turret was missing! One night a friend of mine got his car stuck on Dorland Drive (it could be a sand trap at times) and a soldier rolled up in a tank to pull him out.

John Christensen
Barstow, CA


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