Interstate 40 left in its a wake more than 100 miles of old Route 66 that is today littered with ghost towns. From, Goffs near Needles, California all the way to Ludlow, where the Mother Road picks back up with I-40, the desert is littered with relics from the past and little more.
While driving this dry, barren stretch of battered highway, one can only imagine how difficult it would have been to have traveled it as a fleeing dust bowler in the 1930s. With dreams of “beautiful California” and its golden opportunities dancing in their heads, what a let down it must have been to arrive in this sweltering bit of desert.
If you are a ghost town enthusiast, this old stretch of the road is a dream come true with a plethora of crumbling buildings and photo opportunities. But if you’re looking for quaint stopping points, curio stands, or open gas stations, restaurants or motels, you won’t find it on this abandoned piece of pavement.
Exiting off of I-40 at US 95 North, you will turn left onto Goffs Road, which will lead you down a forty mile stretch of near nothingness.
This pre-1931 alignment of Route 66 was once home to several towns, nothing of which can be seen today, including Ibis, Bannock, and Homer, before reaching what is left of Goffs.
Goffs – A Crusty Ghost
This ghost town has a few interesting remnants including an old General Store and a 1914 schoolhouse that has been renovated by the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association, and now houses a museum. The association maintains a collection of historical materials inside the schoolhouse and dozens of artifacts outside, including vehicles and mining equipment. The rest of the town was a lonely sight with nary a soul around and littered with junk and falling down relics of the former mining industry.
On to what was once the small town of Fenner, old Route 66 crosses under I-40 and continues on to Essex, where you can see the post office and the remains of an old gas station, out in the middle of nowhere. Beyond Essex, were once the towns of Danby and Summit, of which nothing remains today.
On down the road, you will come to Chambless, that used to have a gas station, a cafe and several cabins. These buildings are still intact behind a tall wired fence. This one time oasis in the desert was a popular spot for the long ago travelers of the Mother Road, as it was one of the few places with trees, and the gas station/market once sported a wide covered porch to shade the weary travelers.
About a mile and a half west of Chambless you will see what’s left of the Road Runner’s Retreat, which once provided a welcome respite during the long hot drive across the Mojave Desert. (article continues next page)