Latitude / Longitude:
34°33′25″N 115°44′42″W / 34.55694°N 115.74500°W / 34.55694
Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
Amboy is an unincorporated community in San Bernardino County, in California’s Mojave Desert, west of Needles and east of Ludlow on historic Route 66. It is roughly 60 miles (97 km) northeast of Twentynine Palms. Prior to 2015, the town’s business district contained a post office, a historic restaurant-motel, and a Route 66 tourist shop.
Although Amboy was first settled in 1858, the town was not established until 1883. Lewis Kingman, a locating engineer for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, created the town as the first of a series of alphabetical railroad stations that were to be constructed across the Mojave Desert. In 1926, Amboy became a boom town after the opening of U.S. Route 66. In 1938, Roy’s Motel and Café opened, which prospered due to its isolated location on the route. By 1940, Amboy’s population had increased to 65. Its growth was tied not only to tourists, but also to the Santa Fe Railroad over which freight trains still run today between Kingman, Arizona and the BNSF Railway Barstow, California yard.
During the Great Depression and World War II, tourism declined nationally. But the remaining travelers need for lodging, meals and gasoline kept the town busy. The town remained this way until the opening of Interstate 40 in 1973, which bypassed Amboy. Two extinct volcanoes are located to the west of Amboy: Amboy Crater is a 6,000-year-old cinder cone volcano, made largely of pahoehoe lava, and Pisgah Crater, also a cinder cone volcano, is located near Interstate 40. Because of quarry operations, the crater is not as well preserved as Amboy Crater.
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” and the film Live Evil. Owners Wilson and White maintained Amboy in weathered, unrestored condition for use as a motion picture film site. A large portion of the 2010 movie Beneath the Dark was filmed in Amboy. In 1993, Huell Howser visited Amboy during episode 410 of California’s Gold as part of his ongoing series visiting interesting areas of California. During the episode, he interviewed Buster Burris, the owner of Roy’s. The episode was aired on December 3, 1993, and also showed Wonder Valley in the Morongo Basin and the Amboy Crater.