Amboy California Ghost Town: A Historic Landmark Along Route
Amboy, California Ghost Town is a fascinating and eerie destination that has captured the intrigue of explorers and history buffs alike. Nestled in the heart of the Mojave Desert, this small town was once a bustling stop along the iconic Route 66, but now stands as a testament to the passage of time and the power of nature.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the rich history of Amboy, its key attractions, and practical tips for visiting this intriguing Ghost Town.
The History of Amboy, California Ghost Town
Early Settlement and Establishment
Amboy was first settled in 1858 and officially established in 1883, initially serving as a key stop for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. Lewis Kingman, an engineer for the railroad company, founded Amboy as part of a series of alphabetical stations spanning the Mojave Desert.
These stations included Bagdad, Chambless, Danby, and several others.
The Heyday of Route 66
Amboy’s prominence grew with the construction of Route 66 in the 1930s, connecting Chicago to Los Angeles and passing right through the town. This led to a boom in business, as travelers sought respite from their long journey across the desert.
Roy’s Motel and Café, which opened in 1938, became a popular rest stop and the heart of Amboy, employing over 10% of the town’s peak population of 700 residents.
Decline and Abandonment
However, Amboy’s prosperity was short-lived. The completion of the Interstate Highway System in the latter half of the 20th century rendered Route 66 obsolete, and the town—like many others along the famous route—fell into disrepair and desolation.
With the opening of Interstate 40 in 1973, which bypassed Amboy, the town’s population dwindled, and many of its buildings were left abandoned.
Preservation and Revival Efforts
Amboy has changed hands several times, with various investors attempting to revive the town. In 2005, Albert Okura, the owner of the California-based fast-food chain Juan Pollo, purchased Amboy to preserve its history and open a museum.
Under Okura’s ownership, key landmarks like Roy’s Motel and Café have been restored, and the town now attracts visitors seeking a glimpse of the past.
Key Attractions in Amboy, California Ghost Town
Roy’s Motel and Café
The iconic Roy’s Motel and Café is the centerpiece of Amboy, featuring its distinctive Googie architecture and neon sign. Although the motel is no longer operational, the café and gas station have been restored and are open for visitors.
You can stop by for a refreshing Route 66-branded root beer, snap a photo with the vintage sign, or soak in the nostalgic atmosphere of this historic rest stop.
Just a few miles from the town lies Amboy Crater, a 6,000-year-old cinder cone volcano rising above a vast lava field.
This natural landmark is one of the youngest volcanic fields in the United States and offers a unique hiking experience for adventure-seekers. The Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark, designated in 1973, is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the area.
Abandoned Buildings and Art Installations
The town of Amboy is home to a number of abandoned buildings, including a school, church, airport, and graveyard. These structures offer a haunting reminder of the town’s past and serve as an intriguing backdrop for photographers and urban explorers.
In addition, Amboy has hosted various art installations over the years, such as the Golden Smiles Salty Tears project by Swiss artist Severin Guelpa.
Practical Tips for Visiting Amboy, California Ghost Town
Location and Accessibility
Amboy is about 50 miles north of Twentynine Palms and 80 miles west of Needles. You can reach the town via Interstate 40, taking exit 78, or by following the original Route 66. Amboy Ghost Town can also be found on Google Maps.
Best Time to Visit
The ideal time to visit Amboy is during the spring or fall, as temperatures can be extreme during the summer and winter. Be prepared for the heat, and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing when planning your trip.
Safety and Precautions
When exploring Amboy and its surroundings, it’s crucial to prioritize your safety. Cellular phone service can be unreliable in remote areas, so make sure to download maps and bring a paper map as a backup.
If you plan on hiking in the area, particularly around Amboy Crater, ensure you are well-equipped with water, food, and appropriate clothing. Always be aware of your surroundings and follow any posted signs or warnings.
Nearby Attractions and Accommodations
Although there are no restaurants or lodging options in Amboy itself, several nearby towns offer these amenities. Ludlow, 30 miles west of Amboy, features a few restaurants and motels, while the cities of Barstow and Needles provide more extensive options.
The Mojave National Preserve, Twentynine Palms, and Joshua Tree National Park are all within driving distance for those interested in exploring the surrounding area.
In Conclusion: A Timeless Journey Through History
Amboy, California Ghost Town is a captivating destination that offers a window into the past. From its booming days along Route 66 to its current state as a preserved historic landmark, Amboy is a testament to the enduring legacy of America’s most famous highway.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a photographer, or simply curious about the mysteries of the desert, Amboy is a must-see destination on any Route 66 road trip.