....September 2007 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
History - Newberry Springs, CA
By William E. Smith

Much of the early history of the Newberry Springs area starts in the Ice Age and is derived from archeologists and anthropologists who have found evidence of the presence of man in the 20,000 + year old tools excavated from the Calico Early Man Site and a human scull fragment found in the Schuilling Cave dating back at least 19,000 years. There is speculation that man may have inhabited the are as far back as 500,000 years ago.

As the Ice Age ended, it left much of the area covered by the ancient Lake Manix. Approximately 18,000 years ago this lake was drained as a result of a huge earthquake, leaving the area a series of swamps and marshes. The local inhabitants probably used these to mire down the larger animals such as mammoths and camels prior to dispatching them with their stone clubs.

As the weather became dryer, the evidence of man seems to be centered around water sources. Evidence of this can be found today in the many pictographs found on the rocks near streams and springs of the area.

Newberry Springs was never a remote area as it is bisected by one of the oldest trade routes of the new world known as the Mojave Trail. There is evidence that this ancient trade route that parallels the Mojave River was used at least 4,000 years ago by the Mojave Indians of the Needles area to trade for shells with the coastal Indians from San Diego to San Louis Obispo.

Two Mojave Indians guided the first European Padre Francisco Garces through Newberry Springs by way of the Mojave Trail in 1776 as he headed west in his quest to find a route between New Mexico and the Missions of California. He mentions in his ledger the Sarrano Indians encountered along the Mojave River. 

In the years to follow the Mojave trail saw traffic by Piute Indians driving herds of stolen Spanish horses, mules and cattle eastbound, sometimes being chased in a running battle by Spanish Dragoons. It was not unusual for the westbound traffic to include Indian slaves for trade by other Indians to the Spanish Missions of California. In those days the Mojave river was known as Rio de Los Animas ( the River of the Spirits).

Trapper/trader Jedediah Smith named the river "Inconstant" due to the fact that it would not run above ground at all places. The first time Jed Smith came through Newberry Springs, he was being chased by a war party of Mojave Indians. Future trips by Jed were made through Newberry Springs at a more leisurely pace.

Kit Carson with the Ewing Young trapper party and such other notable names as , George Yount, the Sublett brothers and Thomas "Peg Leg" Smith traveled the trail in pursuit of beaver.

A yearly Spanish caravan of horses and mules that was miles long traversed the trail from California to Santa Fe.

As the price of beaver declined, many trappers and traders turned to thievery and joined New Mexicans and powerful Indian chiefs such as the Ute chief Waraka "Hawk of the Mountains" in stealing stock from the Spaniards of California and capturing and selling Indian slaves to the California Missions. The Mojave Trail was the highway of the day for such illicit endeavors. It was also suspected that the Springs at Newberry with their abundant grass and water was a perfect place, off the beaten path of the Mojave Trail as a collection point for both stock and slaves.

Kit Carson made other trips through the area. One such trip was with John C. Freemont on his scientific expedition / spy mission to California and again as a guide for Lt. Brewerton with a 200 to 300 man expedition.

The California gold rush of 1849 saw an increase in traffic along the trail due to the fate of the Donner Party, the Mojave Trail became the southern route to California. The wagon trains from Salt Lake had to abandon stock and possessions along their route to survive the trek across the waterless desert until they gained the banks of the Mojave River at the intersection with the Mojave Trail. The accounts of seeing the river with its clear fresh water, trees, wild grapes and game after weeks of hardship, is depicted as like the discovery of the Garden of Eden. It wasn't just the trek across barren desert with no food or water for their stock and little for themselves that posed a problem. Stragglers became fair game to roaming bands of Piute Indians. There was only safety in a well armed large group. Many, who after recuperating at the river, decided to backtrack a few miles to retrieve some precious belonging thrown out along the trail were never seen again. The assortment of trails the 49ers took from Salt Lake to the junction with the Mojave Trail was collectively called the Old Spanish Trail, as it was the preferred route by the New Mexican caravans and skirted the Mojave Indian territory farther South on the Colorado River.

Sanford & Banning started a freight and mail route between Salt Lake and San Bernardino in 22 days.

The Mojave Trail from the Mojave River to Ft. Mojave on the Colorado River was known as the Mojave Road for a short time until in 1854 it became known as the Government Road. A pony express type mail service is started. Secretary of War Jeff Davis hired Beale to experiment with Camels as riding and pack animals for his soldiers escorting mail and freight along the Government Road. Fort Cady was established in Newberry Springs at the forks of the road to house horse and camel mounted cavalry as the Piutes and Chimehueve Indians continue to prey on travelers and freighters.

Fort Cady was abandoned shortly after the start of the Civil War and left in the hands of a local rancher. The Indians took advantage of this fact and increased their raids. Burning and killing at will. At the close of the war, it was time for revenge. The fort was reestablished and became the hub for cavalry outposts set up at every water hole and spring between the Mojave River and Fort Mojave. The Indians were denied water and weakened, they were rounded up and sent off to reservations in Southern Utah and Nevada. Even the peaceful Serrano Indians along the Mojave River were marched off to the reservations. Those that were missed in the roundup were dispatched by vigilante militia groups who raided Indian camps killing all inhabitants. By 1868 the last of the Indians were gone from the area one way or the other.

Mining interests in the area started with the discovery of Gold and Silver by the 49ers as they took short prospecting jaunts off the Old Spanish and Mojave Trails. The Alvord stamp mill was set up on the Mojave River not far from Fort Cady. By the 1880's the area began to become settled. At first it was traders and freighter stations along the river. Local farms along the river supplied the needed stock feed for travelers and the garrison at Fort Cady as well as some produce for travelers on the Mojave Road. With the beginning of mining and the resulting boom town of Calico, farming must have been quite lucrative for those hardy soles. Mesquite wood from along the river and the Western shores of Troy lake was continuously harvested to power the mills along the river and at Calico.

In 1885 the railroad that is now known as the Santa Fe was completed. This event created a slow decline of travelers along the Mojave Trail. Fort Cady was abandoned. The farmers along the river concentrated their efforts in supplying the needed feed for the 20 mule teams bringing Borax into Daggett many of them abandoned their places as did the trading and freighting stations along the river. It was evident that the preferred method of travel across the desert was by rail. Newberry Springs was called "Water" in those days. Water from "Water" was shipped via tank car to fill all of the tanks and underground cisterns located at the railroad section houses as far East as Essex. The water from "Water" and now Newberry Springs has been, and remains, the life giving force for much of the Eastern Mojave today.

With the advent of automobile travel, a motor road was built that roughly paralleled the train tracks. This road became Highway 66 but was not located where Highway 66 is today. In those days it was further to the South, as it was imperative that it avoid the marshes at the Springs, the seasonal bogs of Troy dry lake and the deep sand of the valley floor. Today there are short stretches of this old highway still visible. An occasional foundation and even graves mark spots along this road where hearty souls spent their lives providing services to travelers and local miners.

Eventually as road building methods improved and the traffic warranted it, Highway 66 was realigned from the springs East. The community of Water became known as Newberry and boasted of its own post office.

From the turn of the century to the 1920's there was little growth in the area except for a few part time prospectors who lived in shacks in the valley and foothills. Mineral mining had taken over where gold and silver left off.

In the mid and late 1920's there was a flurry of homesteading taking place in the valley. Clearing land, developing water and building a house were requirements for proof of homestead. Water was plentiful throughout the valley, with average water tables at 12 to 16 feet below the surface. While many crops were tried, melons seemed to be the favorite. I am sure this was the case partly because trailer and pickup truck loads of melons packed in straw destined for Los Angeles markets often contained the most lucrative product of the homesteaders, Moonshine.

Shortly after the great depression began, there was another population explosion in Newberry. Highway 66 was packed with Westbound refugees of the dust bowl. Many became stranded at the springs where their varied assortment of vehicles just gave out for good. The homesteaders in the valley became overwhelmed by friends and relatives, city life in the depression was above their means, thus they turned to desert living and the WPA project of building bridges over the washes on Highway 91 to Las Vegas for survival. Life in the area was extremely hard in those days. If it had not been for pure tenacity and the occasional slaughtering of local ranchers' range cattle (locally dubbed "Slow Elk"), many could have perished. It is likely that the herds of Desert Burros in the Newberry and Rodman Mountains met the same fate as the Slow Elk.

As the depression subsided and city dwelling became affordable the less rugged individuals opted to return to city life leaving many adobe and clapboard shacks abandoned in the valley. Travel along highway 66 however was being done by people with money in their pockets. Consequently, many new establishments catering to the needs of the tourists sprang up. The valley agriculture became dominated by chicken ranches, most of them raising chickens for the Knotts Berry Farm chicken restaurant in Buena Park. Walter Knott and his family had been previous residents of Newberry and never forgot the assistance rendered to them by the folks of this area in harder times.

When WWII began, the airport at Daggett and to some extent the Marine Base near Barstow became places of employment for many of the homesteaders in Newberry. Highway 66 was bustling with military convoys. Gas rationing cut into the tourist traffic but there was a constant flow of westbound traffic by mid westerners seeking defense jobs on the coast. Everyone who had any hay growing on their places in the valley raised beef for the black market in Los Angeles.

The end of the war saw another upsurge in travel and more establishments were constructed along highway 66. At its height, Newberry sported the following establishments along the highway: 5 gas stations, 4 motels, 4 auto repair garages, one general store, 1 grocery store, 5 cafes, one rock and curio shop, 1 barber shop, 1 public swimming pool and 1 or 2 beer joints. Alfalfa and melons became the major crops of the valley. Turkey ranches joined the many chicken ranches in the livestock department.

In the late 50's and early 60's the clean air, sunshine and healthful living of Newberry drew retirees from the city. The agriculture of the area was now bolstered by catfish farming. Much of it done by retired people with small ponds who wished to subsidize their limited incomes. Newberry soon became known for its many man made private lakes and ponds.

The building of Interstate 40 to replace highway 66 dealt the highway businesses of Newberry a death blow that will never recover. The only businesses that remained along highway 66 were those catering to the local inhabitants.

Newberry was renamed Newberry Springs in 1967. This was partly due to the needs of the U. S. Postal Service, as much of the mail addressed to Newberry ended up in the Newberry Park post office. Possibly the delusions of grandeur promoted by local land developers helped also.

Newberry Springs today is a growing agricultural and retirement based community with widely scattered small businesses. The many man made recreational and water-ski lakes in Newberry Springs attract visitors from far and wide. The main attraction today remains as it was long ago - WATER.

Copyright 1995, William E. Smith, All Rights Reserved

Winchester Model 1887/1901 From Wikipedia

The Winchester Model 1887 and Winchester Model 1901 were lever-action shotguns originally designed by famed American gun designer John Browning and produced by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Considered the first truly successful repeating shotgun, the lever-action design was chosen at the behest of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, best known at the time as manufacturers of lever-action firearms such as the Winchester Rifle. Designer John Browning protested that a pump-action would be much more appropriate for a repeating shotgun, but Winchester was a lever-action company and felt that their new shotgun must also be a lever-action for reasons of brand recognition. To Winchester's credit, however, they later introduced Browning's pump-action shotgun design as the Model 1893 (which was itself later modified and produced as the Winchester Model 1897), after the introduction of smokeless powder in the closing years of the 19th Century.

Shotgun shells at the time used black powder as a propellant, and so the M1887 shotgun was designed and chambered for black powder 12-gauge shot shells, with a 10-gauge chambering being offered soon afterwards. It was soon realized that the action on the M1887 was not strong enough to handle the smokeless powder shot shells that were being introduced in the late 1890s, and so a redesign was undertaken, resulting in the Winchester Model 1901, which was designed to chamber 10-gauge smokeless powder shot shells. No 12-gauge chambering was offered, as Winchester did not want the Model 1901 to compete with their hugely popular and successful 12-gauge Model 1897 pump-action shotgun.

Although a technically sound gun design, the market for lever-action shotguns waned considerably after the introduction of the Winchester 1897 and other contemporary pump-action shotguns; Model 1887 production totaled 64,855 units between 1887 and 1901, with 79,455 Model 1901 shotguns being manufactured before it was discontinued in 1920.


Over the years, a number of gun companies tried to produce Model 1887/1901 shotguns that could chamber modern, smokeless shotgun shells- largely for the Cowboy action shooting discipline- but with little commercial success. Recently, however, two firearm companies have successfully produced viable models:

    * ADI Limited of Australia, produced a small trial run of modern Model 1887/1901 shotguns, chambered for modern smokeless 12-gauge shot shells. Commercial production on this firearm by ADI was anticipated for 2007, following several years of delays due to distribution issues, but this has not yet eventuated.

    * Chinese arms manufacturer Norinco currently produces the Model 1887 shotgun chambered for modern smokeless 12-gauge shells, a version of which (featuring a 20" barrel) is manufactured for American firearms firm, Interstate Arms Corporation (IAC) and exported for sale in the USA, Canada and Australia. As the only legal repeating shotgun (besides the unpopular and awkward Mossberg bolt-action shotguns) for non-Primary Producer firearms owners in Australia, it has proven very popular with hunters and sporting shooters alike. US (and Canadian) sales, however, have been largely focused on Cowboy Action Shooting participants, owing to the ready availability of affordable pump-action and semi-automatic shotguns in most parts of the US and Canada.

 In popular culture

The Winchester Model 1887 and Model 1901 lever-action shotguns have been seen in a few movies and television shows in recent years, most notably (and famously), the 10-gauge sawn-off Winchester Model Model 1901 which was the signature weapon of Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in the 1991 movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The Model 1901 shotgun that was seen and used in Terminator 2 had the loop handle modified by Hollywood armourer Stembridge Gun Rentals, allowing Arnold Schwarzenegger the ability to "flip-cock" the shotgun in a number of scenes from the movie, as well as to accommodate the size of Schwarzenegger's hands. The same modified shotgun has appeared in other films as well, including The Mummy Returns and Ghost Rider.

"Thunder Valley 2007"

Brimstone Pistoleros have schedule a date for their annual Black Powder Match. "Thunder Valley" will be held December 2nd, 2007. Stages are being finalized and the range has been secured for the event.

This year Prof. Fuller Bullspit has taken on the "Thunder Valley" match as Match Director.  He asked for and was given shooter hand books from major matches that were held ten to fifteen years ago. From them he has written five very interesting stages as well as a one on one challenge stage. These are not going to be the stand and shoot stages of today matches. There will be ropes, drinking, knifes, moving targets, several shooting positions and shooting on the move to keep us entertained. 

I hear rumor of a four pistol stage on Saturday before the sun goes down. There will also be two stages Saturday evening for those who want to shoot BP in the dark. 

We all know everyone has their likes and dislikes about stage designs. Some are very vocal about what they don't like. So that everyone can decide whether they want to shoot this kind of match or not before signing up, the stage instructions are going to be posted along with all the match details on the main Brimstone Pistoleros web pages.  The plan is to have this information in place by September 15th.

Be sure to look closely at the categories. There are only four based on type of guns being used. Two of these categories are split in to men and women.

All articles submitted to the "Brimstone Gazette" are the property of the author, used with their expressed permission. 
The Brimstone Pistoleros are not responsible for any accidents which may occur from use of  loading data, firearms information, or recommendations published on the Brimstone Pistoleros web site.