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The Hitcher


Restoring Amboy California Albert Okura The Chicken Man


Desert Stories: Amboy, California

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) Trailer featuring Amboy Crater

On the Road

Albert Okura
The Chicken Man

When Okura first found out in 2005 that Amboy was for sale, he not only visited the town but paid $400,000 in cash for it.

That was seven years ago. He is now in the middle of investing $1 million to bring it back to life.

Okura is the founder of the San Bernardino-based Juan Pollo restaurant chain, and the creator of the Original McDonald's Museum.

Okura was born in 1951 to a Japanese-American family in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. He got his start in the fast-food business when he was 19 and started his first job at Burger King in Harbor City in 1970.

He quickly worked his way up to manager and in 1975 he was sent to San Bernardino, where he worked himself up to a conviction that he wanted to start an empire of his own. Within five years he moved into management and soon had even bigger goals.

History of Juan Pollo

He started selling chicken. He opened his first Juan Pollo restaurant featuring charbroiled chicken in Ontario in January 1984. Total sales on that first date was $165.

Committing to the project, he and his associate Armando Parra turned to serving rotisserie-style chicken instead of on the barbecue. They also changed the recipe and how it was cooked. They also raised their price. Sales topped $1,300 from next Friday's sales.

The rest is history.

Today there are three dozen Juan Pollo restaurants throughout Southern California.

When Okura started selling chicken, he had no idea that he was extending a tradition when Richard and Maurice McDonald opened the first McDonald's Restaurant in San Bernardino.

Read more: SB Sun

The Amboy Crater

Amboy Crater

The Amboy Crater is a national landmark that is a 250 foot high volcanic cinder cone. Inside the cone are two lava dams that create the appearance of two dry lakes.

Just beyond the crater rests 24 square miles of laval flow.

Cadiz Summit

Most of the towns named by Joseph Kingman along this stretch are now ghost towns. Also included in that list is a service sitting up a steep hill from Chambliss. This service is called the Cadiz Summitt.

Cadiz Summit 1948

All that remains of the summit are foundations, broken cement, used tires (probably dropped off for effect), and tons of Route 66 graffiti.

Cadiz Summit

The Cadiz Summit was probably built in 1928 just east of Amboy. Just after an improvement to Route 66 cut through the mountains here, a small café, gas station, residence and several guest cabins and an outhouse on the north side of the road were built.

Sunset over the Cadiz Summit

Dick and Nadine Cruse operated the property from the mid-sixties until it finally closed for ever in the early 1970s when I-40 was finished and old Route 66 across the Mojave Desert was completely bypassed.

 

The Forecast

Weather Forecast | Weather Maps | Weather Radar

California Road Conditions

 

Barstow

 

Facts

Roy' s Cafe was known for advertising far and wide for staff. Here are a few pulled from the actual want ads back in the day.

1958

WANTED: Dinner cook, Age 35 to 50. Must be neat and fast. No drinking allowed. Top salary. Roy's Cafe

1961

WANTED: Dinner Cook. Must be fast and neat--no drinkers. Roy's Cafe

1962

WANTED: Women dinner cooks and waitresses. Husbands can work in laundry, Motel, dishwasher or service station. Good pay and living conditions. Roy's Cafe

1963

WANTED: Waitress and Service Station Attendent. Ages 25 to 45. Must be experienced, neat and fast. No drinking allowed.

1964

WANTED: Service Station Attendant and Waitress at Roy's Cafe in Amboy. Phone Amboy #3

Local Radio

The Dole Trans-Pacific Air Race

Amboy has more than one connection with space travel. The Amboy crater and surrounding lava bed was used in the 1960's for developing machines that drove on the room.

The other connection occurred back in 1927 when mono-plane "Oklahoma" emergency landed on the newly constructed Amboy airport runway. Had it not been for Amboy, Rockwell International may never have become the prime contractor for the space shuttle. The designer of the "Oklahoma" went on to build spacecraft, and his company evolves to become Rockwell International, the prime contractor for the space shuttle.

James Dole, MillionaireThe Dole Air Race to Hawaii was the brainstorm of Hawaiian millionaire James Dole. In promoting trans-Pacific air travel, Dole promised $25,000 to the first flyer reaching Wheeler field near Honolulu from Oakland, California.

Oakland Tribune July 21 1927Among the contestants was Miss Mildred Doran, a pretty young school teacher form Michigan who was attempting to become the first woman to ever fly across the Pacific.

Piqua Daily Call August 17, 1927

She was a passenger aboard the "Miss Doran" flown by Auggie Peddlar.

Saying Farewell, but not goodbue to  Dole Air Racers

  • Purse: $25,000; $10,000, second
  • Donor: James D. Dole, Honolulu
  • Start: 12 noon, Pacific standard time
  • Takeoff: Oakland municipal air port
  • Entrants: Nine planes. 17 men, one woman
  • Route: Great circle steamship lane
  • Destination: Wheeler field, Oaho Island
  • Distance: 2,407 land miles
  • Estimated number daylight hours: 11
  • Estimated hours of darkness: 11.5
  • Estimated flying time required: 22 hours, 30 minutes
  • Support: Seven United States Navy destroyers dispatched to cover various points along the route.

The Oklahoma was not the only airplane to have troubles. Three pilots were killed during test runs including Captain Arthur V. Rogers, Lieutenant George Covell, and Lieutenant AW Wagener. After a postponement of a few days by gentlemen's agreement, the pilots readied their planes. Because of these accidents, the San Francisco starting committee begged the Honolulu Committee for a longer postpone of two weeks to better prepare the other planes. The postponement was rejected.

Only five of the nine planes were still flying in the race just an hour into the race of August 16.At the last minute the plane from the city of Peoria was disqualified brining the total down to eight. The El Encanto never got off the ground crashing at the end of the runway reducing the number to seven. A sixth plane flown by Major Livingston Irving never left the ground. The Doran carrying Miss Mildred Doran returned just forty-five minutes into the race with engine problems lowering the able flyers to five.

Billings Gazette August 17, 1927By mid-flight only four remained including the Doran containing the "flying school teacher" flown by John "Auggy" Pedlar. The biplane Doran from Flint, Michigan was making its second attempt.

Eight hours into the race only the positions of two of the planes were known. Nothing was known of the whereabouts of the monoplane, Golden Eagle or the Doran

August 17 At 2:45 PM on August 17, Art Goebel landed his Woolaroc winning the $25,000 Dole air race. Goebel beat the nearest contender by 25 some miles.

Waterloo Evening Courier August 18, 1927Waterloo Evening Courier August 18, 1927Sadly two planes never reached Hawaii. One plane contained Miss Mildred Doran. Her aircraft named in her honor had attempted a second flight after some quick repairs.

Oakland Tribune August 18, 1927Oakland Tribune August 18, 1927The bodies of the five fliers of the Doran and the Golden Eagle were never found. That raised the total lives lost in the race to 10. Three during the test runs, two on take off, and the five missing somewhere probably in the Pacific Ocean.

Just three days after the flyers were reported missing, the "Dallas Spirit," one of the two planes that failed to take off headed towards Hawaii joining in on the search and rescue mission. At 9:02 PM on August 20 the Dallas Spirt flashed an SOS call saying the plane was in a tailspin. The message read "9:02 PM we went into a tail spin --SOS--relay that--we came out of it, but were sure scared. It was a close call. We thought it was all off, but we came out of it. The lights on the instrument board went out and it was so dark that Bill couldn't see the--we are in a spin--SOS--..."

The Dallas Spirit was lost somewhere about 700 miles off the cost of the United States.

On August 22 the Secretary of the Navy, Curtis D. Wilbur, agreed that some federal move must be made to prevent a recurrence of the disasters that fell upon the Dole air race entrants, crews of the Golden Eagle, Miss Doran, and the Dallas Spirit. Congress was urged to bar ocean stunt flights.

As far as the "Oklahoma" goes. The reason it returned to Oakland and dropped out of the race was due to a frozen cylinder. Had no one successfully landed in Hawaii, backers of the big monoplane would have installed a new motor and sent the plane off on a second attempt.

 

 

Route 66

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Day 34: Amboy to Barstow via Needles

Needles to Barstow via Amboy

About midway between Needles and Barstow along Route 66 in the Mojave Desert sits a ghost town called Amboy. Route 66 in these parts of California is also known as the National Trails highway. Roys Cafe in AmboyAccording to the 2010 census there are still 17 people living in Amboy’s Zip code of 92304. Most of the homes around here were built while Route 66 was still a major highway. Now a ghost town, Amboy had an exciting and past full of colorful and interesting characters.

A Colorful History of Amboy (as found from a vast collections of historical newspapers)

1858 Amboy is first settled by early pioneers and miners.

1884 Amboy becomes a town. In the American period of California history the Southern Pacific railroad probably was responsible for the naming of more places in the state than any other single organization. Southern Pacific needed 1,200 station names to keep the railroad going to California. In 1884 when the Southern Pacific traded the present Needles-to-Mojave railroad line to the Santa Fe, Lewis Lewis KingmanKingman set about to build a series of sidings from Amboy to the Colorado River at Needles. He named them in alphabetical order, Amboy, Bolo, Cadiz, Danby, Essex, Fenner, Goffs, Homer, Ibis, Java, and Kleinfelter. These names except Kleinfelter (Klinefelter) met the requisites of a railroad name--short and spellable for the convenience of telegraphers.

1896 Excitement grows over the discovery of gold in the region. The Arrow Mining District is about 18-20 miles from the Amboy station.

Vagabond Joseph Otto dies between Amboy and Bagdad. He and Louis James Searcey were tramps traveling westward on the Santa Fe Pacific. Searcey is charged with murder. During the next decade Searcey is sentenced to be hung twice. His lawyers argue the jury discussed the case outside of the courtroom. As a result, his sentence is changed to life in prison by the Supreme Court. It turns out the evidence on which he was condemned to death was largely circumstantial. Searcey's friends finally convince Governor Gilbert to pardon him in 1908.

1897 A stage route is started up again between Dale and Amboy. It leaves Dale every Tuesday and Amboy every Wednesday night.

1900 A mill is built to produce gypsum.

1902 New road is built from Amboy into the Virginia Dale mining district.Los Angeles Hearld, June 17, 1903

1903 Former miner Charles Thomas is shot and killed June 26 at 6:30 pm by Constable JH Wagner. Thomas attempts to hold up the entire town by securing possession of all the fire arms, which he succeeds in doing with the exception of the constable's revolver. Thomas then forces Fred Decounter, a resident of Dale, to accompany him to find Wagner. The three men meet on the sidewalk just outside the restaurant. Thomas informs Wagner that he has lined up the town and wants him to line up with the rest; that he wants his pistol and would get it if he had to kill him. Wagner attempts to pacify Thomas, which he is unsuccessful in doing. Thomas then marches the two men up to the front of the post office, where Wagner succeeds in eluding his captor slipping into the post office.

Thomas demands Wagner exit the post office and threatens to kill Decounter. Wagner in the meantime secures his revolver and while Thomas takes aim at Decounter, Wagner shoots him through the window killing him almost instantly.

Thomas' intention in holding up the town was to secure a bar of bullion from J. R. Cheatham, president of the Seal of Gold Mining company and owner of the O. K. mine, who was going to make a shipment the next day. The O.K mine was in operation from 1902 to 1954.

1904 William McFitzwilliam is appointed postmaster at Amboy

1905 Large beds of gypsum are discovered and the owners install a plant to manufacture gypsum into plaster. The mill is built near the Santa Fe station and a tramway laid from the mill to the depot about two miles away.

1907 Santa Fe Cutoff at Amboy is used to tap gold and copper mines in Southeastern San Bernardino county

Construction of the Wickenburg cut-off by the Arizona and California Railroad from Wickenburg, AZ to Amboy California opens the rich mining country already attracting the attention of local and Eastern capitalists. The 200 mile line is being built by the Phoenix and Prescott which is controlled by the Santa Fe. The Santa Fe abandons its bridge over the Colorado river at "The Needles" and built one further down stream as a new route into California for faster passenger and freight service.

1908 H. A. Landwehr, president of the Seal and Gold Mining Company, operating near Amboy, is arrested and charged with embezzlement of 2113 ounces of gold bullion. By today's prices that amount is well over $175,000. The complainant was Alexander Strachan who provided exact dates and amounts stolen.

1909 Necessary capital is gained for the Parker cutoff from Parker, Arizona to Amboy on the main line of the Santa Fe railroad. Completion means much to Los Angeles in the way of trade facilities with the eastern states as well as first class service for the eastern portions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Two men died from heat exhaustion in the cement factory in Amboy. The thermometer read 126 degrees.

National Trails Highway Era

1914 The National Trails highway is designated to pass through Amboy.

1919 Roads through New Mexico and Arizona are so poorly marked in small towns that travelers have difficulty finding their way. The California State automobile Association provides maps for travelers. A steady streamOakland Tribune, October 5 1919 of tourists camp in Amboy overnight. The proprietor of the tavern nearby frequently leaves his bed and shoots a rifle over the heads of these tourists to make them cease their racket and permit people to sleep.

1920 Gasoline rations ordered in Southern California. Pleasure vehicles are restricted to filling tanks up to half full and turned away if over half full. Industrial and agricultural vehicles use 70 percent of available gasoline. The shortage between Needles and Amboy is so bad that many machines are stalled on the desert because of lack of fuel. The Amboy supply is truck delivered.

1924 Standard Oil constructs an oil distribution plant costing $11,000. Plant includes pump house, warehouse, and two storage tanks built in the center of town. Dry grading and dragging continues on the road between Victorville and Amboy. Travel time reduced by two hours for the 120 mile route along the Old National Highway.

1925 Survey of road heading south from Amboy to Whitewater, Morongo, and Twentynine Palms cuts 40 miles off desert travel between Amboy and Redlands. A marked airfield is established at Amboy. The field is treated with calcium chloride with the name of the town painted in huge letters. The town has less than a score of buildings.

Roys Closed SchoolRoute 66 Era

1927 The monoplane "Oklahoma" is forced to land near Amboy. It is headed to San Francisco to participate in the trans-Pacific $25,000 Dole Air Race to Honolulu. Lieutenants Al Henley and Bennett Griffin of Oklahoma encounter bad luck on their flight from Bartlesville to San Francisco and are forced to land at Amboy. Although their plane the Oklahoma did start the race in Oakland, it was forced to return to California with a tear in the fuselage. The Amboy Crater is a popular tourist site for travelers. A drive from the coast inland to Amboy takes approximately seven hours.

1928 Jack Mitchell and his wife left their failed business in Los Angeles during the Great Depression thinking a new start in the desert was a better option. Mitchell stumbles onto the Mitchell Caverns not far from Amboy. Using a crude windlass Mitchell is lowered into the great pit of the caverns. The windllass jams and he swings helpless and dizzy at the end of the rope until passing out. Weak and sick he is pulled up hours later. Eventually these caves are taken over by the California Park Association.

1929 Twenty-two miles of Route 66 between Sibera and six miles east of Amboy is graded at a cost of $2,296,550.

1930 Twenty-three miles of Route 66 from Amboy to Essex is graded.

1933 Miner Carl V. Pailasa ships four tons of ore from his claim and received $22.50 per ton. Many prospectors arrive in Amboy as the weather moderates. A search of the Mojave Desert starts when Joseph Price strays away from a transcontinental bus stopping in Amboy. The bus had stopped in Amboy for a few minutes and when passengers got back on the bus, Price was missing. A few years later a bullet hole in the back of a bleached skull, one tooth, the composition handle of a pocket knife and a hobnailed pair of boot soles are found near a little used road near Amboy. One theory is that the remains are of Joseph M. Price, retired Pennsylvania businessman who wandered from the transcontinental bus.

1935 A prospector and his family are rescued from the desert after being stranded for three days on a little used road north of Amboy. FA Pinkston, his wife, and family of six ranging from ten months to 12 years were fine except for suffering from hunger. Their car broke down after they had chosen to use the short cut road and were unable to signal for aid.Roys Diner by Schuchman

1938 Roy's Motel and Cafe opens. The walls of Roy's Cafe are made from rail road ties and plaster. Driving nails into the walls is still a difficult task today.

1940 Amboy grows to 64.

1952 Roy's has 100 people working 24-hour days on food, lodging, and engine changes. Amboy was the busiest place between Needles and Barstow. Workers go until exhausted, sleep a few hours an come back on duty.

1955 Route 66 is used heavily by the military as six bases cover a fifth of the Mojave desert. This movement began during World War II. In 2012 there were seven Mojave desert bases.

1956 Santa Fe passenger trains are delayed 8 to 9 hours after 22 cars of a freight train derail near Amboy due to a broken axle.

The White Stallion fountain greets visitors using the public restrooms at Roys1957 The population of Amboy is 350. California's first roadside rest areas opened. Public restrooms like this one at Roy's Cafe feature a life-size white stallion water fountain. All three are in San Bernardion County and located on Route 66 between Barstow and Needles. The first is 35 miles east of Barstow between Newberry and Ludlow, another is 95 miles east of Barstow between Essex and Amboy, a third is 125 miles east of Barstow between Essx and Needles.

Two men are found dead in the Mojave Desert after failing to return to their hotel that evening. Edward S Waterman, age 64, of Hollywood and Ivan Donald Deputy, 58, of Los Angeles had driven into the desert southeast of Amboy in a World War II weapons carrier. They told the manager of a hotel they would be back that night. When they didn't return, the manager notified two veteran prospectors who set out in a jeep and discovered the first body about a half mile from the weapons carrier that had become stuck in the sand. The other body was found eight miles southwest.

1958 Amboy has a business that sells outboard motors for boats. It is impossible to drive any highway in California without meeting a man or tow pulling a trailer, loaded with a boat.

1959 An African lion roams the desert and lava beds near Amboy since March. The lion escaped from his cage four months earlier after a traveling circus truck had an accident.

Roy's sign is erected.

1960 Resurfacing and widening of 28.7 miles of Route 66 between 6 miles east of Amboy and 1.5 miles east of Essex is approved at a cost of $500,000. The highway is widened to 12-foot driving lanes with 6-foot paved shoulders on each side.

1961 The Talofa ditch bridge east of Amboy catches fire after a truck crashes into it burning down the bridge structure. After a six-month detour, a concrete bridge is constructed and traffic is re-routed back off the detour.

Governor Edmund Brown's key traffic proposals moving through the legislature are limited use of radar detection devices by highway patrol and allowing squad cars to be painted other colors than black.

The Santa Fe Chief passenger train running at 85 mph hits a lumber truck near Amboy at the highway 66 crossing. Three members of the train crew are injured.

Two Long Beach youths hunting for rattlesnakes in the Mojave desert near Needles, Arizona suffer from heat exhaustion after their car breaks down. Jim Owen, 21, walks 20 miles to Amboy for help. After spilling his last water, Jim Frakes, 17, decided to walk out, too. Nearly naked, he is found later suffering from heat exhaustion seven miles from the vehicle.

The Beginning of the End of Amboy

Prop 1962

1962 The San Bernardino Board of Supervisors opposes the straightening of Route 66 between Ludlow and Needles that would skip Amboy.

The Federal bureau of Public Roads in return considers lopping off 50 miles of Route 66 by rerouting via Topock, Arizona to Twentynine Palms as an option. Barstow and Victorville are up in arms. Twentynine Palms and Morongo Valley rally around the new plan.

Actor Clint Walker and a friend turn up safe after being lost for several hours in the Mojave Desert near Amboy. The two men originally set out on a hike looking for some old plane wreckage. Walker's friend hiked eight miles to the town of Cadiz. Walker in the meantime found the car and was driving to Amboy when a search party intercepted him. Walker was the original star of the 1955 television series "Cheyenne."  Walker was also a frequent visitor of Amboy and enjoyed riding his motorcycle across the sand dunes. The show was the first hour-long western, and in fact the first hour-long dramatic series of any kind, with continuing characters, to last more than one season. The show was canceled in 1963. Wikipedia

1963 Technical feasibility study calls for a Oakland Tribue, 1963more detailed study costing about $339,000 for engineering and public safety factors at the site 11 miles north of Amboy where atomic bombs would blow a road through Bristol Mountain for the Santa Fe Raiload. State highway officials and Santa Fe railway representatives submit the proposal for consideration under the AEC's "Plowshare" program for developing peaceful uses for atomic power.

Ninety continuous miles of highway beginning 16 miles west of Amboy and extending to Needles now has two 12-foot driving lanes and six foot shoulders. Prior to 1960 the stretch of Route 66 between Barstow and 16 miles west of Amboy was widened.

Special meeting on the Amboy bypass for the people of Amboy is cancelled because of the Federal Bureau of Public Roads hint that Route 66 might pass through Twentynine Palms. Residence of Barstow and Victorville were fearful the road would change so supervisors canceled the meeting.

Flames destroy the post office, cafe, grocery, motel and service station at Amboy causing damage estimated by owners at $1 million. About a third of the Mojave Desert Community is ruined. Amboy's water is delivered by rail from Twentynine Palms and Morongo .

1964 There is still a chance that a nuclear bomb may be exploded in the Birstol mountains 200 miles east of Los Angeles and just north of Amboy. If it blows it will be the free world's first commercial atomic digging.

Operation Desert Strike is in full force. These war games are a joint Army-Air Force Operation Desert Strikeexercise designed to familiarize troops with the concepts and doctrine associated with the large scale employment of conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Locals are concerned over the permanent damage being done to the region. Some speculate this project is due to frequent UFO sightings in the area. A helicopter pilot in the area as part of the Army-Air Force Desert Strike project discovers the mummified body of a man who's car was found mired in desert sand a few miles northeast of Amboy.

1965 General Motors Defense Research Laboratories use the Amboy Crater area for field studies for a vehicle designed for exploring the moon.

1966 Time is running out for using an atomic blast to excavate the new 1-mile bypass of Amboy grow dim. Construction of the highway needed to be started by 1970 to meet 1972 goal set by Congress.

Californian television show Ralph Story's L.A. runs a story of the possible extinction of the desert town of Amboy.

1968 Atomic bomb digging is canceled. Commission could not commit itself to the June 1973 time limit set by Congress for completion of the Interstate Highway system. This change moves the new highway one mile North of the proposed nuclear site. The blast would have required 22 atomic bombs.

1970 Master Sergeant Richard Austin Hunt Sr., father of three, is shot by a bandit along I-40. Sergeant Hunt had pulled over to get a baby bottle out of the trunk of his car. The bandit pulled up after the family had stopped and demanded Sgt. Hunt's wallet. A fight ensued and Hunt was shot. Neither Hunt's wife or his kids were able to drive so Hunt managed to drive 45 miles to the Roadrunner Cafe in Amboy and summoned help.

1971 The Chevron station in Amboy is one of 8 stations along Route 66 charged with illegally ruining tires, fan belts, radiators, and hoses to sell customers unneeded auto parts at inflated prices.

1972 Four motorcyclists are killed and at least nine others injured in one weekend near Amboy, some during a cross-country race and others in an unrelated shooting incident in the Mojave Desert. Two of the riders were killed and at least six injured in a series of accidents during the annual Checkers Motorcycle Race from Amboy to Parker Arizona.

1973 The East Bristol California Highway Patrol Microwave site becomes operational. It provides California Highway Patrol communications on Interstate 15, Highway 40 (old route 66) and the Twentynine Palms area. The site is powered by desert winds through generators.

One month before the Route 66 bypass opens, the parents of Chicago Cubs player and former announcer, Ron Santo were killed in an auto wreck as they were on their way to visit their son at the Cubs' Arizona training camp. The couple's car is the second in a line of three traveling east. The first braked suddenly and served into the path of a meat truck. They collided, and the truck went out of control and rolled, crushing the Constantino car.

A 22 year old California man is arrested by California highway Patrolmen near Amboy after picking up 30 pounds of marijuana dropped from an airplane. He had loaded it into his camper truck. A hiker had observed the drop and notified patrolmen who arrested him six miles north of Amboy.

The Amboy bypass is opened. The new desert bypass from Needles to Barstow skipping Amboy is nearly 100 miles and contains no gas stations. Approximately 70 percent of the 11 million visitor days of recreational use is estimated to have occurred on the desert last year involved off-road vehicles. There were 500,000 four-wheel drive vehicles in SouthernRoys California in 1972 and 1.2 million of the state's total of 1 million motorcycles. As a result a plan to close off areas such as the Amboy Crater were proposed.

1975 Seventy-five percent of the gas stations surveyed by the Automobile Club will Charleston Daily Mail September 10, 1975be closed the first weekend in January just as they were over the Christmas season. Amboy's station is open as usual. The town of Amboy goes on the market for just $50,000 down. There are no buyers.Buster Burris at age 83 in 1992

1992 Buster Burris, son-in-law of Roy, turns 83. Only Burris and his wife operate Roy's. There is no mechanic on duty and only two dozen lunches are served on a good day.

1999 The last students moved away and the school finally closed. Any students in the district now attend the Needles Unified School District. The school district is the largest geographical school district in the contiguous United States covering over 6,000 square miles.

Roys Cafe and MotelRoy's

Roy’s cafe opened in 1938. Roy and his wife Velma actually owned the entire town and raised two children. By 1940 Roy and his son-in-law Buster turned the cafe into a 24-hour garage, expanded the dining area, and added a motel and offered service every hour of the week. When Roy’s was rocking in the 1950s, the town had about 700 in it and had three restaurants, 3 gas stations, a train stop, and a bus depot. It was the place to stop in the desert. Roy’s cafe also employed over 70 staff.

Roys Other Cafe

By 1972 the new Interstate highway cut off the traffic flow. Within five years Roy's cafe and motel was pretty much dead in the sand. In 1977Roy's Hotel Cabin Buster took over the place but gets a little odd. He often chases customers away at gun point. Roy’s also continues to be site for shooting movies and commercials. Many of Amboy’s buildings were torn down by the former owner of Roy’s Cafe to save from paying Santa Fe New Mexican January 23, 2007taxes. Eventually Buster and his second wife named Bessie retired and moved to Twentynine Palms. Buster’s first wife and Roy’s daughter Betty had died earlier of cancer. Amboy is leased to a Caribbean restaurateur and a New York Celebrity Photographer.roy's cabin hotel room

In 2003 Amboy was offered on sale on Ebay for an asking price of 1.9 Million. It was never sold. In 2005 the current owner Albert Okura bought Amboy from Buster Burris' second wife, 90-year-od Roy's Gas PumpBessie, who regained ownership after a previous owner defaulted on a loan. Today Roy’once again sells water and soda out of a cooler and gas again. Pay at the pump and the service attendant will fill up your tank. Gas and water are both essentials for travel in the desert. Plans are for the hotel cabins to become functional someday.

Amboy ChurchThe Amboy Church and School buildings both also still sit in the town along with two rows of hotels.

Amboy Airport

The Amboy airport also has scene a few planes come and go. In March of 2013 two planes successfully landed and after a brief stop took off again. The gravel bed of the landing strip also has been leveled and graded.

Barstow

Barstow’s location has always made it a great place to pass through. The Santa Fe Trail and railroads both play important roles in Barstow's history as a post in the Mojave Desert. Back in 1886, a reported 123 degrees in the shade made national news. A year later a telegraph dispatch reported that these dry conditions did little in preventing the entire town from being destroyed by fire.

The town was rebuilt as the Sante Fe Trail and railroads continued to pour through Barstow. Barstow was a prominent stop for early automobiles back in 1922. Logansport Indiana Journal 1922Even an ad way out in Indiana promoted a route for getting to California along the Sante Fe route featuring Barstow. Motel Car in BarstowThis route also included stops along future Route 66 location of Seligman before reaching Riverside, California and the end of the Santa Fe route. As popular as the railroad business was, Barstow still made a huge decision in 1925.Route 66 in 2012 in Barstow looking eastIn 1925 the entire business district was moved three blocks to the south to accommodate the every expanding railroad yard shared by the Santa Fe and union Pacific railroads and reposition itself along the National Old Trails highway and the future Route 66. This was no small decision as approximately 3,000 people lived in Barstow at that time. Sante Fe engine passing through Barstow from the coatline.Prior to the move the town sat between the the passenger tracks that still run pasted the Harvey House and the freight yards just to the south. The move also relocated these businesses along the National Old Trails highway that eventually turned into Route 66. Highway 58, Interstates I-15 and I-40, and Route 66 share Main Street still today.Harvey HouseOne of the "must sees" in Barstow is the Harvey House train station. This is another gorgeous building designed by American architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. She is the same woman that designed the La Posada Hotel in Winslow. Another of Ms. Colter's projects was building towers along the Grand Harvey House MonumentCanyon's rim. Three of those locations are the Hermit's Rest, Lookout Studio, and Desert View Watchtower. The Casa Desierto as it was known opened in 1911. While Amtrak stopped dropping off passengers 60 years later, Barstow still puts the station to use for private parties, photo shoots, and railroad history. Just east of the station sits a railroad museum with several train cars nearby.

It is obvious that the town of Barstow takes great pride of the connection the city has with Route 66. Numerous hotels and businesses support Route 66 signs and murals.Route 66 mural in Barstow

 

 

 

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