White crosses along Fort Irwin Road are stenciled with the dates of vehicle accidents. Frank Foster

The white crosses of the Mojave Desert

About 50 simple white crosses line a dusty road leading to a military post in the Mojave Desert.

They’re not for soldiers killed in combat, but motorists who died in crashes along the 31-mile Fort Irwin Road linking the Barstow area and Fort Irwin National Training Center.

The accidents have been blamed on the design of the two-lane stretch. Paved in the 1940s, it had no shoulders and sat flush with the desert. When a driver drifted even slightly off the pavement, a wheel was likely to catch in the sand and send the vehicle tumbling.

The placement of crosses by Fort Irwin officials was initially meant as a warning to other motorists. They were left as memorials, some with children’s toys placed on them. Crashes became less frequent after safety upgrades were made about 13 years ago.

L.A. Times | 500px

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