Amboy, California Ghost Town

Amboy Road led me through 48 miles of bleak desertscape from Twentynine Palms to the ghost town of Amboy, California. Small houses were scattered along the highway, separated by wide stretches of desert soil.


Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Several miles on, I stopped to photograph an abandoned home on the side of the road.
Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

A few minutes later I came to another abandoned home near the corner of an unpaved side road. The neighboring lot appeared abandoned too.

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

It didn't take me long to realize that there were so many vacant homes along Amboy Road, if I stopped at each one I’d never get to Amboy before dark. So I made quick stops at the most interesting ones and snapped pictures of some of the others from the car.

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

I had to get a photo of this strange sign that stood in front of what appeared to be an abandoned ranch.

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins
This house was on its last legs.

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

The road made a 90-degree turn and continued northward alongside Bristol Dry Lake, a huge salt flat. Like Salton Sea, it accumulates agricultural runoff and has no outlet due to its low elevation.

salt flats near amboy, ca ghost town

I pulled over at a soduim facility, National Chloride Co. which wasn't abandoned, but looked too interesting to pass by. The land was scarred by evaporation ponds of clear aqua beside snake-like mounds of earth.

evaporation pond near Amboy, California ghost town

evaporation pond near Amboy, California ghost town

evaporation pond near Amboy, California ghost town

salt flats near Amboy, California ghost town

salt flats near Amboy, California ghost town

The salt was so ubiquitous it could have been mistaken for frost and chunks of ice, had it not been a scorching hot day.

salt flats near Amboy, California ghost town

evaporation pond near Amboy, California ghost town

The iconic sign for Roy's Cafe welcomed me as I finally pulled into Amboy.

Urban exploration of abandoned Roy's Cafe in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Adrenaline shot through my veins. I'd been meaning to explore the unique little ghost town ever since I first read about it a year earlier.

Originally settled in 1858, Amboy did not officially became a town until 1883, when a railroad station was built there. The opening of Route 66 in 1926 brought quite a bit of tourism and traffic to Amboy, which became an important stopping point for travelers across the Mojave. In 1938, Roy Crowl, the owner of the town, opened Roy's Motel and Café, which thrived as the only gas station and lodging in the area.

The opening of Interstate 40 in 1973 diverted the majority of traffic away from Amboy, resulting in the town's decline. Amboy was bought by investors and changed hands several times over the years before Albert Okura purchased it in 2005 with the intention of preserving the town and opening a museum.

I was ecstatic to find that Roy’s Cafe had indeed reopened. I pictured myself sitting at the lunch counter, sipping a vanilla malt and enjoying a burger and fries, like so many a traveler had during the heyday of Route 66. Unfortunately in its new incarnation, Roy's Cafe no longer had a functioning kitchen and served only as a gift shop.

Urban exploration of abandoned Roy's Cafe Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

The dozen or so little white buildings that comprise Amboy are situated around a short segment of the highway. Nearly all of them stand vacant.

There is even a tiny airstrip that Harrison Ford supposedly used to fly into before grabbing lunch at Roy’s.

Urban exploration of abandoned airstrip in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

The old motel rooms were the only buildings fenced off with keep out signs. Several old cars were parked in the fenced off area, and a maintenance man was working nearby. There were so many other great places to explore in the town that I didn't feel like I was missing much by not getting inside the motel.

Urban exploration of abandoned motel in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

The cottages, however, were open and still contained props from the 2010 movie "Beneath The Dark", which had been filmed there.

Urban exploration of abandoned cottages in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned cottages in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned cottages in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned cottages in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Behind Roy's is a little neighborhood of 4 houses, which have been thoroughly vandalized and torn apart by scavengers in search of copper.

Urban exploration of abandoned homes in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned houses in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned houses in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

A work shed contained old tools and decaying junk.

Urban exploration of abandoned houses in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned buildings in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Across the highway stood a little church and rectory mostly untouched by vandals. 

Urban exploration of abandoned church in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned church in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned church in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned church in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Daylight was waning, so I had to hurry to explore everything before sunset. I explored the school last because it was so dark inside, the precious daylight wouldn’t have made a difference. My flashlight and headlamp worked very well, but the pictures still turned out quite grainy and unevenly lit.

Urban exploration of abandoned school in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned school in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned school in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned school in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned school in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned school in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned school in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned school in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Urban exploration of abandoned school in Amboy CA California ghost town ruins

Feeling incredibly fulfilled at having explored the amazing ghost town, I got back on the highway and continued on through the darkness toward the dying town of Needles.

Thanks for checking out this article. If you enjoyed it, please feel free to share it on Facebook. While you're at it, please subscribe to Places That Were and follow me on my social media sites:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/placesthatwere

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JimSullivanPlacesThatWere/posts

EyeEm: https://www.eyeem.com/u/placesthatwere

Instagram: http://instagram.com/theplacesthatwere

Twitter: https://twitter.com/placesthatwere/

Tumblr: http://placesthatwere.tumblr.com/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/jimplicit

500px: https://500px.com/placesthatwere

Thank you!

6 comments :

  1. Get ahold of the book "The Silence and the Sun" by Joe De Kehoe if you can. He thoroughly explored and researched Amboy, Cadiz and lots of other towns around old route 66 in tje California desert, interviewed families, searched archives, and took lots of pictures. It's a real treasure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the suggestion! Looks like a great read. I'm interested to read the interviews. I love personal accounts from people who lived in these places. They offer such interesting perspectives.

      Delete
  2. Loved your video, blog and photos! We just visited Amboy today. We were driving from Vegas to Palm Springs, and I had read about Amboy and seen pictures online so I wanted to stop and check it out. Definitely had a creepy vibe, but there were several other tourist types there also checking it out. Bought some gas at Roy's and checked out the hotel. It seemed the cottages had been used for some sort of art exhibit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Devin! I'm surprised were able to buy gas at Roy's. When I was there, it was functioning only as a gift shop with no working gas pumps.

      Delete
  3. Hi Jim. Cool video. Enjoyed watching it. I am planning to drive from 29 Palms to the Amboy Crater (on National Trails Hwy) this weekend using Amboy Road. Was wondering if Amboy Road is completely paved the entire way or if there are any sections of dirt road along the way. My car isn't great on dirt roads and with it being roughly 50 miles want to make sure I won't have any issues going that route. Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks, John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I believe Amboy Road is completely paved the whole way. Several dirt roads intersect it, but you won't need to travel on any unpaved roads to get from 29 Palms to Amboy. I'm not sure where the crater is though. I don't know if the road leading to it is paved.

      Delete