Visited September 20, 2014
I had originally planned to arrive in Amboy by driving east from Ludlow along old Route 66, which would have also taken me through the lost towns of Siberia and Bagdad. Unfortunately, a few weeks prior to my trip the area had experienced some tremendous monsoon storms and many of the small bridges along Route 66 were damaged or washed completely away. I’m hopeful that the damaged sections of road and bridges will be repaired, as the few small settlements and businesses along old Route 66 in this area depend on tourist through traffic. I took the I-40 Kelbaker Road exit south to Route 66 and then backtracked west to Amboy to see what I could find.
The general Amboy locale was first settled in 1858 by a group of salt miners, but the town was not established until 1883. A locating engineer for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad created the town as one of a series of railroad stations that were to be built across the Mojave Desert.
With the official opening of Route 66 in 1926, Amboy experienced tremendous prosperity. Roy’s Motel and Café opened in 1938 and by 1940 the population had grown to sixty-five residents. The town’s heyday was the decade of the 1950s, when there were several restaurants and gas stations in town, as well as a train stop and bus station. Unfortunately, the ax fell in 1972 when I-40 was completed and virtually cut off Amboy and other small towns from the flow of traffic between Barstow, Cal. and Kingman, AZ.
The town of Amboy was purchased in 2005 by Albert Okura, who has plans on slowly restoring the entire town to life. When I was there in September of 2014, the Café building was open, selling touristy things and gas was available at one pump. For a more complete history of the town, click HERE. For some great pictures I took, continue reading.
Roy's Motel and Cafe are undoubtedly one of the most famous remainders of Route 66 located anywhere in California. The sign is iconic and a draw to people from all around the world, it's probably one of the most photographed spots in the Mojave.
At the time of this visit, there were no rooms available for travelers to spend the night, but they were open to see what they looked like. I certainly hope the owner will one day be able to fully restore this complex, I know I would stay over if it were possible.
The lobby is a bit of a time capsule. It wasn't open, but the large glass windows let you see the entire room.
This old "Clipper" sits behind the one-room bungalows, in front of what appears to have been a two-story motel addition to the complex.
Several boarded up woodframe houses sit on the western edge of town.
The Amboy School is located within walking distance of Roy's Cafe. It was in operation until 1999. It is rumored to be haunted.
Roy's Cafe was open, but not for food when I stopped by. You can go in and check out the counter and stools, the decorations and buy a souvenir. A small mini mart is also open and one gas pump was in operation. Amboy Crater is located not too far from town. I had planned on stopping there and hiking the trail, but time didn't permit on this trip. But that's a great reason to head back out to Amboy to see what else I can find.
Ok, who left this statue out in the desert?