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Railroads around the Mojave National Preserve

Three Santa Fe subsidiaries

What began as one morphed into three railways north from Goffs which all became wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Santa Fe System. The first of these was the Nevada Southern Railway, the grade of whose abandoned track north of the Santa Fe is intact and evident today, and a historic earthwork structure, running north through the Lanfair Valley, first on the west side of the dirt road, later crossing over to the east side, up to a station called Manvel where the Rock Springs Land and Cattle Company had established its home ranch headquarters. Begun in January 1893 by a group headed by Isaac C. Blake of the Needles Reduction Company, it was intended to reach mines in the New York Mountains and beyond. This railroad was completed to Manvel in July 1893, and stalled there. There were grandiose plans to extend it all the way to Pioche, but the mines were declining and the railroad went into bankruptcy in 1894, the year after it had been built. Others then refinanced and reorganized the railroad in 1895 and renamed it the California Eastern Railway.

As the 19th Century came to an end, the Copper World Mine of the Ivanpah Copper Company began producing, and this plus a new smelter in Needles rejuvenated the railroad, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway loaned it money, and in April 1901, the California Eastern resumed construction over the New York Mountains from Manvel, renamed Barnwell, through Vanderbilt and out into the Ivanpah Valley and north to a terminus more or less in the middle of that valley which became the second location named Ivanpah, 15 miles south of the original Ivanpah on Clark Mountain. Again there were grandiose plans of extension, and even a survey to Goodsprings, but nothing came of it. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe purchased the remaining 51 per cent of stock in the California Eastern and took it over effective July 1, 1902, making it, in effect, a Santa Fe branch line. Today, portions of the grade across the New York Mountains are used by the unpaved road, while the two legs of the wye north of Barnwell and the section of grade approaching and passing through Vanderbilt is more-or-less preserved. In 1905, Senator Clark’s San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad crossed the California Eastern north of Vanderbilt at a place initially named Leastalk, which eventually became the third location called Ivanpah, and sucked much traffic away from the California Eastern, while subsequent construction of two north-south railroads, the Las Vegas & Tonopah reaching north from Las Vegas and the Tonopah & Tidewater reaching north from Ludlow more-or-less killed the California Eastern’s hopes of ever expanding northward to additional mining districts. The California Eastern continued to provide weekly train service across the New York Mountains between Goffs and the second Ivanpah until 1913, after which the track north of Leastalk ceased to be used. Train service continued from Goffs to Leastalk, or South Ivanpah as it now was called, until 1918, and then for three years was available not on schedule but only when traffic was offered, and effective March 10, 1921, the entire line north of Barnwell was abandoned and subsequently dismantled.

The southern portion of the line between Goffs and Barnwell had won a reprieve, however, for in 1906 and 1907 the Santa Fe built a subsidiary 23.22-mile Barnwell and Searchlight Railway, separately incorporated, spurred by efforts of promoters in the mining camp of Searchlight to built their own railway connection to the Salt Lake Route at Nipton. The Santa Fe was determined to nip that scheme in the bud. The railway was completed March 31, 1907 and went into operation on April 1, no fooling! Initially the railway provided daily except Sunday service, and it took 2 1/2 hours to travel from Goffs to Searchlight by rail. Unfortunately the years in which the railway was built were the years in which Searchlight boomed as a mining camp, after which it declined, no doubt helped by a sharp little recession in the fall in 1907 from which many mining enterprises in the American West failed to recover. By 1919, trains ran to Searchlight only on Mondays and Fridays. Cloudbursts washed out the line in numerous places on September 23, 1923, halting all traffic, the Santa Fe looked at the balance sheet, and applied to the Interstate Commerce Commission for permission to abandon the line. The I.C.C. granted approval on February 18, 1924, and the history of the three little lines north of Goffs, the Nevada Southern, California Eastern, and Barnwell & Searchlight Railways, all eventually branches of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, came to an end. These three railroads had operated right through the heart of Mojave National Preserve.









Santa Fe

California Eastern RR

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