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Leaving Cadiz: 1943

Leaving Cadiz: 1943

March 1943. "Santa Fe R.R. line leaving Cadiz, California. This town is a junction point with a branch going to Phoenix." View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information.


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Military Bases

To the right of the photograph lies the backcountry of the Twentynine Palms military reservation. And about four miles straight ahead, the tracks curve east (left) and between there and Goffs was General Patton's Desert Training Area. If you drive on Route 66, there are historical markers that lay it all out.

The zigzag roads are most likely surveyors roads from the numerous gas and water pipelines that run through the area.

[As mentioned below, they were for flood control. - Dave]

Buster Keaton's "Our Hospitality"

In Buster Keaton's "Our Hospitality," the residents (all seven of them) gather around the railraod track to greet the arrival of the daily train. After waving their hats and cheering, they all walk back disconsolately to their own daily activities.

This picture reminds me of that scene.

Cadiz and the Parker Branch....

Cadiz still look much as it did in this 1943 photo (except I don't remember the third rail last time I was out that way).

The branch to Phoenix mentioned in the comments is the former Parker branch of the BNSF railroad (formerly Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe - ATSF, formerly Santa Fe, formerly Atlantic and Pacific).

The former Parker branch to Phoenix is now run by the Arizona & California Railroad, if I remember correctly.

The Silence and The Sun is a fascinating book that discusses, in great detail, much of the Parker branch and the now long gone communities along the line, including Cadiz:

The Silence and The Sun, Joe de Kehoe

The Zigzags

The zigzags are high desert flood control. They bulldoze berms to direct the infrequent flash flooding under the freeway culverts. Sometimes the interstate still floods, however.


On the Google map if you go northwest to Interstate 40 and Kelbaker Road there appears to be some gravel roads that zig and zag but don't go anywhere. They are straight enough to have been surveyed, but for what purpose?


I thought this looked familiar. I zoomed out 3 or 4 clicks and found, almost due west of there, Amboy Crater, an extinct volcano that we hiked out to only 6 months ago, March 08. It's the dot with the diagonal black line. Small world!

Purpose of the OWI

I really like the train pictures here (this one is now on my desktop). So I don't want to seem ungrateful, but why was the OWI taking pictures of railroad tracks in the California high desert?

[Probably the same question Congress asked before it cut off funding for the program in 1943. The OWI took over the Depression-era Farm Security Administration photography program after the war began. Jack Delano's pictures documented America's transportation system in the early years of the war. More about the OWI here. - Dave]

Hasn't Changed Much!

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Zoom out a couple clicks to see the range...

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