Amboy, California

Amboy, California

Amboy is a nearly empty ghost town in California's Mojave Desert roughly 60 miles (97 km) northeast of Twentynine Palms. It was once a major stop along famous Route 66 but has seen much lower visitation since the opening of Interstate 40 to the north in 1973. Amboy is home to the famous Roy's Motel and Cafe, a Route 66 landmark. Amboy is in ZIP code 92304 and area code 760.

The town was named in 1883 by Lewis Kingman, a locating engineer for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. It is the first in a string of alphabetical railroad stations in the Mojave Desert.cite book|first=Erwin|last=Gudde| coauthors =William Bright |title=California Place Names|year=2004|edition=Fourth ed.|publisher=University of California Press|pages=p. 11|id=ISBN 0-520-24217-3]


Amboy Crater

Amboy Crater, an extinct, 6,000-year-old cinder cone made largely of pahoehoe, rises to the west. Another Crater, Pisgah Crater, also rises further to the west near the Interstate 40, and has been heavily dissected by quarry operations.

Roy's Motel and Cafe

Roy's Motel and Cafe was the only gasoline, food and lodging stop for miles around that part of the eastern Mojave and was well known for both its Googie "retro-future" architecture added to one of the original buildings and even more famous sign, a 1959 addition. Both Roy's and the surrounding town were once owned by Buster Burris, one of Route 66's most famous characters who purchased Roy's from his father-in-law Roy Crowl, the man for whom the property is named, in 1938 and ran the town until 1995.Mike Anton, [,1,2068370.story?coll=la-headlines-california Breathing life into a faded desert landmark] , "Los Angeles Times", January 17, 2007.] Burris was also responsible for erecting power poles between Amboy and Barstow, using a crane mounted on a 1930s-vintage Studebaker truck.

In 1938 Roy Crowl opened "Roy's" as a service station on Route 66 in Amboy. Roy, together with his wife Velma, owned the town. In the 1940s Roy teamed up with Herman "Buster" Burris who ended up marrying his daughter Betty. Together they expanded the business, keeping it open 24 hours a day and adding the motel to the service station and cafe. Business boomed in the deluge of motor tourists after World War II.Mike Anton, [,1,2068370.story?coll=la-headlines-california Breathing life into a faded desert landmark] , "Los Angeles Times", January 17, 2007.]

The routing of the old National Trails Highway (1914) and its better-traveled successor, Route 66 through Amboy saw a steady growth of business, especially at Roy's. The complex was so busy during summer vacation that Burris placed classified ads in other states in an effort to bring in enough help.

In 1972 Roy's lost the traffic from Route 66 to I-40 to the north and went into decline. Burris himself told a visitor on July 3, 1977 that his business dropped to zero the day the new Interstate highway opened.who? Buster also remarked that in 1971 the town held several hundred people; after the bypass they had no choice but to leave the area as there was no longer any way for them to make a living. Buster Burris then destroyed most of the town's buildings to avoid tax liability.Fact|date=July 2008

In 1977 Roy Crowl died and his son-in-law continued the business; but with his strong views against rowdy bikers and men with long hair, he did chase off many a visitor at gunpoint.Mike Anton, [,1,2068370.story?coll=la-headlines-california Breathing life into a faded desert landmark] , "Los Angeles Times", January 17, 2007.]

Buster sold the town in 2000, just before he died at the age of 92Mike Anton, [,1,2068370.story?coll=la-headlines-california Breathing life into a faded desert landmark] , "Los Angeles Times", January 17, 2007.] . The town was owned by investors Walt Wilson and Tim White starting from 2000. After the two investors lost it in foreclosure, it was repossessed by Bessie Burris, Buster's widow. Bessie sold the property again in 2005 to Albert Okura, owner of the Juan Pollo restaurant chain, who offered $425,000 in cash and promised to preserve the town and reopen Roy's.Mike Anton, [,1,2068370.story?coll=la-headlines-california Breathing life into a faded desert landmark] , "Los Angeles Times", January 17, 2007.]

April 2008 update: The gas station has been reopened!

Amboy School

Right next to Roy's is the former Amboy School.

hoe Tree

A tamarisk tree east of Roy's on Route 66 is used as Shoe tree [ [ Route 66 Roy's: Pictures ] ] .

Early history

Amboy is also one of California's oldest towns, dating from 1858 [ [ Route 66 Roy's: History ] ] and even has an unused, unrestored one-room schoolhouse dating from the 1900s. Its population rarely peaked over 700 after WWII (1945), usually not considered a place for permanent residence, but a rest stop for long travels. Its growth over the years was tied to chloride works in the dry lake beds that dot the area as well as the Santa Fe Railroad over which high-speed freight trains still run between Kingman, Arizona and the BNSF Railway giant Barstow yard. The chloride works rank among the world's largest.

From ghost town to film location

As of August 29, 2007, it was reported that Roy's gas station was in working order and many people were seen getting gasoline. According to those who live in a nearby town of Yucca Valley, the gas station is only open sporadically.

Roy's was the town's only business outside of the chloride works and post office. Roy's is currently closed but the owners state they are trying to restore water and power and perhaps even sell gas. The cabins which were once rented to Route 66 travelers stand unused. Roy's used to be open for food and gasoline, but the hours of operation were erratic under the previous owners. Gasoline was also considerably more expensive than normal at roughly thirty percent above the state average. Roy's even attracted some well-known regulars. Actors Harrison Ford and Anthony Hopkins have autographed photos on the walls of the restaurant and visit whenever their schedules allow. Ford frequently flies in and lands his plane on a nearby landing strip, one of the first ever built in California. Despite its remote location, Amboy still beckons travelers to and from the Colorado River as well as those interested in Route 66 lore. Part of the 1986 motion picture "The Hitcher" with Rutger Hauer was filmed in Amboy while Roy's was the setting for a 1999 television commercial [] for Qwest Communications. It was also used in Enrique Iglesias' music video "Hero." Owners Wilson and White maintained Amboy in weathered, unrestored condition for use as a motion picture film site.

The town has a total of 10 surviving buildings and a population of far fewer than the advertised 20. According to the "Los Angeles Times", the town's population is approximately four.Mike Anton, [,1,2068370.story?coll=la-headlines-california Breathing life into a faded desert landmark] , "Los Angeles Times", January 17, 2007.]

Amboy is a well known landmark for those traveling to and from Las Vegas from Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. The so-called "Amboy Route" is well-known among Coachella Valley residents. The route is via California Route 62 through Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms, Amboy, then via Kelbaker Road through Kelso and on to Cima to join interstate 15 at Nipton Road.

Preservation and restoration

Currently the water and electricity need to be restored before preservation can begin. Okura estimates he has spent over $100,000 to restore the restaurant, but estimates have the renovation topping $1,000,000 before it will be ready to open again.Mike Anton, [,1,2068370.story?coll=la-headlines-california Breathing life into a faded desert landmark] , "Los Angeles Times", January 17, 2007.] There has been some vandalism at Amboy recently, thwarting much of the effort of preserving the town. To prevent further vandalism, a caretaker is now living on site.Mike Anton, [,1,2068370.story?coll=la-headlines-california Breathing life into a faded desert landmark] , "Los Angeles Times", January 17, 2007.]

Re-Opening of Gas Station

The grand opening of the historic gas station came just in time to serve cold drinks and gasoline to thousands of motorcycle riders on their way to the 26th annual Laughlin River Run. The gas station’s owner, Albert Okura, who also owns the successful Juan Pollo fast-food chain, purchased the town in 2005 and has been working to renovate and reopen Roy’s Gas Station. He also has plans to open a cafe and mini-mart at the same location. [ Historic Gas Station Reopens] , "Victorville Daily Press", April 25, 2008.]

ee also

*Bristol Dry Lake


External links

*dmoz|Regional/North_America/United_States/California/Localities/A/Amboy/|Amboy, CA
* [ Current photos from Amboy (28 April 2007)]
* [ Official website with history, historic photos and rental information]

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