In the very early days, Roy Crowl had a
small plane that he kept in a hangar behind the Cafe and used it once
to rescue a woman who had fallen down into Amboy Crater. He also used it to fly his grandchildren
around, taking in the view of the desert when they came to visit. Roy was also an entrepreneur, as he owned additional real estate in
Arizona and Cherry Valley,
As the children grew up, Lloyd moved to
about 50 miles southwest of Amboy but continued to travel back daily as he worked in the salt
mines east of Amboy. In the meantime, a man named Buster (Herman) Burris
rode into town on horseback and got a job working for Roy. He
soon fell in love with Roy's daughter Betty and they married. After Roy passed away, Buster and Betty continued to run the services
with the same excellent service until the late 1970s when Betty died
Later, Buster would remarry a woman named
Bessie, and the two continued the tradition of exceptional care of
travelers through the years. During this time, Buster was known
to open his doors clearly marked "Closed for Thanksgiving" to weary
tourists out of gas or stranded. The cafe was renowned for
its burgers, chili and other homemade delights as travelers stopped
for a welcome respite on the long, hot, desert stretch of road. Buster continued to change tires on trucks and busses right up until
the day he retired, at more than 80 years old.
Buster finally sold the town in 1995 and
moved to Twenty-Nine Palms where he passed away in the year 2000. The two guys who bought the town primarily used the site to host
movie companies and photo shoots. Though the restaurant was
still open at times, the hours were sporadic.
Early in 2005, Buster's widow, Bessie foreclosed on Amboy and sold it at a foreclosure sale in late February.
enthusiasts, the new buyer was a man named Albert Okura, who is dedicated
to preserving the old
He purchased the 690 acre town, lock, stock and barrel for $425,000 - a bargain
Okura owns the Juan Pollo restaurant chain, as well as the very first
McDonald's restaurant in San Bernardino, which today, operates it as a
Okura has plans to restore
Amboy's gas station, convenience store, diner,
20 motel rooms, eight
motel cottages and four houses to their 1950s-era grandeur.
has already made progress. As of 2009, the Amboy Cafe has reopened as a
gift store, which sells Route 66 and Amboy merchandise and souvenirs.
Plans are still in the works to reopen it as a restaurant, but a number of
improvements are still needed before that dream can become a reality.
and a half miles west of Amboy, the Amboy Crater rises above the desert floor. This volcano that
erupted some 10,000 years ago was once an active
tourist attraction. Today it sits silently in the desert reminiscing
of better days, along with the scattered remnants of the rest of the road.
miles west of Amboy once stood the town of Bagdad, which has been totally
obliterated today. You will also pass by the old sites of Siberia
and Klondike, which, like Bagdad, are nothing more than names on an old
map. At last, you reach
Ludlow, where you finally see some signs of life.
Ludlow Died Twice
Ludlow is a virtual
you will see a few open businesses due to its proximity to I-40. Founded in 1882 as a water stop for the Central Pacific Railroad, the
water was hauled from
Newberry Springs in tank cars. Before long, gold was discovered
in the area and
Ludlow began to grow until the mining petered out in the early 1900s.
Declining for the first time,
Ludlow saw a revival when
came through, becoming a busy rest stop along the new highway.
Ludlow died a second death when I-40 replaced the
Mother Road. Though there are still a few
people living in the area, supporting the service businesses along the
interstate, the town is mostly littered with the decaying buildings of its
On the other side of the railroad tracks
behind the old settlement of
Ludlow is an interesting cemetery surrounded by a rusty wire
fence. Here, nameless graves are marked by a couple of dozen
wooden crosses, leaving no testament to those who died here many years
The original road dies beyond
Ludlow, as it once traveled to the south side of I-40. However, by
joining the north frontage road, you will soon be riding on the real
thing again in about two miles.
Newberry Springs Has Seen Better Days
About thirty miles beyond
Ludlow, you will come to Newberry Springs, which has long been a source of water in the dry
Mojave Desert. Though the town wasn't founded until 1911, the
wagon trains heading to
on the old Mormon Trail in the mid 1800s made this place a regular
stopping point along their travels. Located on an ancient lake,
Newberry Springs has a large basin of underground water, the first
water point for wagon trains west of the Colorado River.
Newberry Springs, be sure to visit the Bagdad Cafe, a
survivor that was once called the Sidewinder Cafe. Behind a high
chain link fence, you can also view the remains of an old
Continuing to travel another 12 miles or so, you will
Daggett, a town rich in history. Originally founded in the
1860s, the town boomed when silver was discovered in the
Mountains north of
Daggett in the early 1860's. Just a few years later, borax was
also discovered and began to be actively mined.
Daggett soon became the
mining supply and support center for the many mines in the area.
Daggett was supported by three borax mines, had three
two restaurants, a lumber yard, several stores and the old Stone
There are several vintage in buildings in
Daggett including Alf's Blacksmith Shop, which has been standing since
1894; the Stone Hotel, built in the 1870s, said to have hosted the likes
of Governor John
Daggett, Tom Mix, and
and a one time Visitors Information Center that opened in 1926. Now,
a private residence, this building once invited newcomers to
as well as housing a cafe and service station.
Before heading on down the
Mother Road to
sure to take a side trip just seven miles north of Daggett to the historic
of America, updated July, 2015.