logoHistory

Some 6000 years ago
Amboy crater was formed.
Some 500 years ago
Amboy crater became dormant after the sixth period of eruptions.
amboy crater, present day
1776
Father Garces traveled over Indian paths from Needles towards Barstow and on to Los Angeles via Victorville and Cajon Pass. This would become a traditional route for pack trains carrying trade goods on an east-west route under the Spanish rule.
1848
On February 2nd, Mexico surrendered California to the control of the United States.
1850
On September 9th, 1850 (Admission Day) California was admitted in the Union.
1854
Lieutenant A.W. Whipple crossed the desert following ancient paths to explore a route for a railroad to be built across the Mojave. He followed the Mojave road that was laid over older Indian trails.
Much like the path the natives followed, the path chosen had less to do with the steepness and more to do with presence of water. Steam engines needs lots of water to run.
1858
Amboy was founded by miners. They were tapping sodium chloride (plain old salt). Amboy did find it's reason for being from the chloride works, not from the railroad. They extract salt from the dry lakes south of the town towards 29 Palms.
1882-83
A railroad was constructed from Mojave to Needles by Southern Pacific following the path laid out in 1854.
1884
Control of the railroad was passed on to A&P, which was controlled by the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe railway (ATSF). ATSF is more commonly known as Santa Fe (much later to become BNSF)
1910
National Old Trails Road is one the very first to start receiving various attention. There were multiple paths getting attention. These did include a northern path towards San Francisco, a southern path towards San Diego more or less along present day US-50 and the central route.
car in the mohave near ludlow
1911
A.L. Westgard had been exploring routes for the AAA and in 1911 they published a text of his "... The original line of the Trail to Sunset was through Albuquerque, Globe, Phoenix and Yuma, ... but more lately there has been developed a new and shorter connection from Albuquerque through Holbrook, Flagstaff, Williams, Needles and San Bernardino to Los Angeles." This at the time newer alignment would become the official National Old Trail in 1917.
1915
Major road improvement funded by local organizations have been completed and this results in the road getting recommendations to be used by people traveling to the West for e.g. attending the Panama Pacific International Exhibition. In part that recommendation was also based on the availability of accommodations along the route such as the Harvey Houses.
1916
A report in "Touring Topics" said about the portion of the road from Cadiz to Ludlow: "motorists would find a fair dirt road with the exception of the 6 or 7 miles near Cadiz where there were numerous chuck holes and the road was very sandy.
1917
All controversies are settled on the alignment National Old Trails is to follow. Through Amboy following what will become Route 66 is the final choice.
car in the mohave before the road improvements
1926
Route 66 got certified and it ran through Amboy on what was previously know as National Old Trails.
Amboy from the air, rumored to be from 1925
Late 1920s
Road improvements lead to Route 66 becoming fully paved across California.
1938
Roy's opens. Roy's was named for the original owner Roy Crowl. Roy and his wife Velma owned the town and had 2 children: Lloyd and Betty. Betty ended marrying Herman "Buster" Burris who rode into town and stayed first to work and later to fall in love.
Before Roy's got built, there was a Chinese restaurant and a garage in Amboy in the thirties to the south of the current location of Roy's. Roy's got built in the thirties around the time Route 66 got realigned.
1942-1944
The area surrounding Amboy is used to train troops. General George S. Patton started the Desert Training center in April 1942. Most of the camps were south and east of Amboy.
1940s
Roy and Buster become partners and grow the business into a 24 hour garage, expand the cafe and add a motel to the cabins and offer 24x7 service.
1945-46?
Smoke was spotted from Amboy's crater. The railroad and Route 66 got closed off for 72 hours. An airplane was used by the LA Times to make pictures, only to find out it was not about to erupt, but that presumably some local kids had set fire to a bunch of tires, wood, railroad ties and other junk to simulate a natural disaster.
1950s
In it's heyday Amboy had a population of about 700 and had 3 restaurants, 3 gas stations, a train stop and a bus depot. It was a prime stop in the desert and Roy's employed over 70 staff.
February 1959
The famous sign got erected on Feb 1st, 1959.
1963
The Mercury Police car was made that served for a while as an attraction at Roy's
1964
The GM bus that was parked in front of Roy's was made.
1972
Route 66 from Ludlow in the west to Fenner in the east got replaced as the favorite crossing by the just completed I-40 in 1972, effectively cutting off Amboy from the traffic flow. After most people left, Buster took the bulldozer to most of the town himself and left only little remaining: Roy's, the post office, the school, the church, the airport, ... a total of 15 buildings.
1975
Amboy Crater was declared a National Natural Landmark.
1977
Roy Crowl dies. Roy's is kept open by Buster, but it seems he had lost faith in it. It appears that Buster decided if he liked visitors or not and that some would get chased off at gunpoint.
1978?
Betty died of Cancer earlier and in 1978? Buster would remarry Bessie.
Bessie used the Lobby of the motel as a gallery for her paintings and pottery.
1986
Roy's had became over the years a site for shooting movies and commercials. In 1986 part of "The Hitcher" was shot in Amboy.
1995
Buster retires and moved with his wife Bessie to Twentynine Palms.
1995
Walt Wilson and Tim White leased the entire town from Buster. Walt is a Caribbean restaurateur and Tim is a new York Celebrity Photographer. They both share a love for touring their bikes and met by chance.
1999
The school closes as the last of the students moved away.
August 2000
On August 10th Buster Burris dies at age 92, leaving his wife Bessie behind.
2000
After the lease expired, Walt Wilson and Tim White managed to buy the town from Buster in 2000 for $710,000 . They used it mainly to try to attract more of the Hollywood types and didn't seem to care much for travelers on the Road. The accounts of inhospitality to downright being chased away are unfortunately numerous. The movie industry found it possible to fly in and have a burger at Roy's making it a very costly burger if you include the transportation. Part of the extreme unfriendliness might have to do with the kind of movies they were shooting there at the time. Some adult content just doesn't go well with being open to strangers I guess.
2003
Amboy was offered for sale on Ebay for a month ending on April 4th, The asking price was 1.9 Million. The highest offer was $995,000. It went unsold.
At the time of the sale, the population in 2003 was 7, it's unknown if that number included the owner Walt Wilson and the caretaker Henry Orrante.
February 2005
Amboy got repossessed by Bessie Burris.
May 2005
On May 3rd, Amboy got sold to Albert Okura, owner of the Juan Pollo restaurant chain. The unconfirmed amount the property got sold for is $425,000 .
2005
One of the biggest challenges seems to restore water and electricity to Amboy. Water had been brought in by rail for years. And Buster had himself built a line of electricity poles.
Late 2005
To prevent further vandalism, a caretaker is now living on site.
2006
Roy's is selling bottled water, prepackaged food and memorabilia again.
January 2008
Roy's is selling gas again.
September 2014
Heavy rains washed out bridges built in the 1930s both to the east and to the west of Amboy, essentially cutting off Amboy from Route 66 and National Old Trails.
January 2015
The road to the west of Amboy is reopened. But Route66 / National Old Trails to the west remains closed. While it is possible to bypass the damaged bridges, visitors are advised not to do so - CHP is keeping an eye out for offenders.