NEW FEATURE: VOTE & EARN NEATOPOINTS!
Submit your own Neatorama post and vote for others' posts to earn NeatoPoints that you can redeem for T-shirts, hoodies and more over at the NeatoShop!


The Mojave Phone Booth: The Loneliest Phone Booth in the World

The following is reprinted from Uncle John's Unstoppable Bathroom Reader book.

In the 1960s, some miners put a phone booth in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Long after they left, the booth remained ... waiting for someone to call.

HELLO? ANYBODY THERE?

Miles from the nearest town, the old phone booth stood at the junction of two dirt roads. Its windows were shot out; the overhead light was gone. Yet the phone lines on the endless rows of poles still popped and clicked in anticipation - just as they'd been doing for nearly 30 years. Finally, in 1997, it rang.

The windows were shot out and the overhead light was gone, but the phone worked! (photo: Azfoo.net)

A guy named Deuce had read about the booth and called the number ... and continued to call until a desert dweller named Lorene answered. Deuce wrote a story about his call to nowhere, posted it on his website ... and the word spread through cyberspace. Someone else called. Then another person, and another - just to see if someone would answer. And quite often someone did. Only accessible by four wheel drive, the lonely phone booth soon became a destination. Travelers drove for hours just to answer the phone. One Texas man camped there for 32 days ... and answered more than 500 calls.

REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE

Someone posted a call log in the booth to record where people were calling from: as close as Los Angeles and as far away as New Zealand and Kosovo. Why'd they call? Some liked the idea of two people who've never met - and probably never will - talking to each other. Just sending a call out into the Great Void and having someone answer was reward enough for most. Unfortunately, in 2000 the National Park Service and Pacific Bell tore down the famous Mojave phone booth. Reason? It was getting too many calls. The traffic (20 to 30 visitors a day) was starting to have a negative impact on the fragile desert environment. The old stop sign at the cattle grate still swings in the wind. And the phone lines still pop and click in anticipation. But all that's left of the loneliest phone on Earth is a ghost ring. So if the urge strikes you to dial (760) 733-9969, be prepared to wait a very, very long time for someone to answer.

The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Unstoppable Bathroom Reader. Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!

I believe that this was the inspiration for a Pete and Pete episode, at least part of one. There was a phone that had been ringing for decades on the outskirts of town, but everyone was too afraid to answer it (until one day...).
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
This Flickr photo states the National Park Service ripped out the phone booth in 2001:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/eyetwist/55062664/
Nice photo of the phone booth too :-)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Hola. Doc here, from Deuce of Clubs.

The _Bathroom Reader_ folks never contacted me before they published their write-up, so I thought I'd set a couple of things straight here, in lieu of going over to Wikipedia and throwing a mild onscreen tantrum at its Mojave Phone Booth entry.

The phone booth that came to be known as the Mojave Phone Booth was a historical object of longstanding use in the area and, as such, should have been preserved (certainly according to the Historic Sites Act of 1935 (49 Stat. 666; 16 U.S.C. 461-467). One wouldn't have thought preservation would be an issue in a self-styled "Preserve" such as the Mojave National Preserve. In fact, the greeting from the first issue of the official handout of the newly created "Preserve" claimed that the Preserve "was established to preserve the outstanding natural, cultural, and scenic resources of this very special treasure," while their website warned all visitors that

"All plants, animals, rocks, historical objects, buildings, archeological artifacts, and other natural and cultural objects are protected by law. Please do not disturb them in any way, leaving them intact for all visitors to enjoy."

Why, then, would the NPS destroy the Booth--and secretly, without public hearings or warning of any kind?

Many outlets (including, appropriately, the _Bathroom Reader_) have uncritically repeated then-Superintendent Mary Martin's vague excuse as it appeared in the NPS's lone public statement on the subject: "increased public traffic had a negative impact on the desert environment." Mary Martin never offered a shred of proof of this. And it wasn't "20 to 30 visitors a day"--it was actually 25 to 30 visitors a *week*. So it's odd that at the same time that the newly arrived NPS in the Mojave was publishing tourist material practically begging people to come and visit the "Preserve," Commandant Martin decided that, as NBC's Roger O'Neill sarcastically put it in his report on the NPS's destruction of the Booth:

"In other words, despite 1.6 MILLION acres of sand, cactus, Joshua trees, and snakes, too many people -- 25 to 30 a week -- were tramping way out of their way to answer the phone."

Martin knew very well that the reason she gave for destroying the Booth was bullshit (most Booth visitors would in fact clean up the area when they'd visit, and they drove in on established roads that had existed for decades--i.e., they weren't off-roading), but she kept on with her charade, going so far as accusing me of hauling out the pile of white decorative rocks near the Booth, when those rocks had been there for years & years & everyone who lived out there knew how they'd gotten there.

(I have my own theory to explain Martin's single-minded vendetta on the Booth, and it has nothing to do with protecting the desert and everything to do with a bureaucrat covering her ass in the spotlight of all the publicity the Booth was generating, which could prove detrimental to the career of a government flunky who--before the Booth rose to fame--appears to have taken other unilateral and illegal actions against some of the people who had been living in the Mojave since before she herself was old enough to wear baby (jack)boots. We shall get to the bottom of that in due course.)

Doc
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Hi , I found the phone booth so interesting that I added some pictures to my guestbook, and will add it to my
top 300 Pictures. I also have a live pay phone in our back yard. George
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Wonderfull story, found it while looking for inspiration for my "call-from-any-phone-booth-in-Canada-for-free" business.
Wonder what should I do to reproduce it to my clients.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Wonderfull story, found it while looking for inspiration for my “call-from-any-phone-booth-in-Canada-for-free” business.
Wonder what should I do to reproduce it to my clients.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
This phone use to be on the Triple A maps of California. It was a dot in the middle of nowhere near the Nevada boarder and it said " telephone". I read that in an article in the Orange County Register, looked it up on a AAA map and sure enough, there it was. I lived in Anaheim at the time, so it was only a couple hours away. I took a road trip with my brother to find it, never did find the phone booth. We saw some big ass cows and long horn bulls,or whatever they are called, but no phone booth. We asked a couple of people from that area if they knew the location of the phone booth, but they looked at us like we were from Mars or something.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
WELL, IF THE PHONE LINES ARE STILL THERE AND ARE LIVE,
SOMEONE WITH SOME INITIATIVE SHOULD TAKE A PHONE OUT THERE AND CONNECT IT UP... BRING AN EXTENSION LADDER, SOME EXTRA PHONE LINE AND "DO IT"
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
AND IF YOU NEED THE LAT/LON OF THE SITE HAVE SOMEONE THAT HAS BEEN THERE BEFORE GO OUT THERE WITH A GPS AND GET THEM PLOTTED FOR YA .... VERY NICE ARTICLE "DOC"

LET PISS OFF THE NPS AND PUT IT BACK....
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 18 comments




Email This Post to a Friend
"The Mojave Phone Booth: The Loneliest Phone Booth in the World"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

 

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window
X

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
 
Learn More