Visited on September 21, 2014
It was early afternoon on day one of my “Goodbye God, I’m going to Texas” roadtrip when I turned off I-40 to check out the town of Ludlow, California. I had never been there before, so was looking forward to seeing what it had in store. It’s definitely worth a stop for anyone interested in old abandoned buildings and/or needing gas or something cold to drink. It was 2 out of 3 for me.
Ludlow came into existence in 1883, built as a water stop for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. When ore was found in the nearby hills, that created a new bit of excitement in the desert. Later, borax and other mining products from Death Valley and Beatty, Nevada made their way to town to be shipped to refiners via long distance Santa Fe Railway lines.
As the local mining and railway activity slowly faded away, the town survived by supplying travelers on the National Old Trails Road, which later became Route 66, with the things they needed. Food. Gas. Water. Shade. A place to stay the night. But after the construction of I-40 bypassed the town, Ludlow dwindled away as residents left for other places.
When I stopped by to visit, the gas station/mini mart south of I-40 was bustling. Across the street, the Ludlow Café was open and a motel a bit farther down the road also seemed to still be in business. There was life in Ludlow. But what I was interested in was what might be located east of the gas station, on the old road. So I headed off in that direction to see what I could find.
What I found was a "Road Closed" barricade across the road, no doubt in place due to the monsoon storms several weeks earlier. But someone had moved a few of them apart, so I took that to mean the road was open. I drove past the barricades, into the unknown and forbidden.
Less than a few hundred yards from the barriers, I came to what was once the center of town. There were at least a half dozen old business buildings and a couple houses, all long-abandoned. This was my kind of town.
The Ludlow Cafe was the first building I stopped at to investigate. I'm not sure if it closed because it caught on fire, or if the fire came after it had closed, but burn it did.
A roofless garage stands near the Ludlow Cafe. A few old gas pump remains and a lot of trash are inside this building. A lot of the painted advertising is still distinct on the walls. Generators, Regulators, Water Pumps. Arc Welding. But definitely not responsible for fire or theft, and no checks accepted.
This old house was completely boarded up, I wondered if there was anything interesting inside. So I peaked into windows on the side.
Looks like some leftover furniture and empty cabinets.
This two-story home/business? sits directly across the street from the Ludlow Cafe. The photo above is of the back of the building where it looks like there was once a deck or porch.
Several small rooms inside, but I couldn't figure out how the people got upstairs. I couldn't find the staircase.
This large, two-story stone and cement building sits pretty close to the railroad tracks. This side looks much better than the other side:
This building was constructed in 1908 and was originally known as the Ludlow Mercantile Building. At some point the Murphy Brothers operated a general store here, which included a meat market, groceries and liquor.
"Murphy Bros. Store" is barely discernible on the side of the old building. Despite its semi-demolished state, it's still the most imposing structure in town today.
I'm sure there are probably a few interesting spots in town that I missed, but that leaves an opening for another visit, and new things to discover.