Phone Booth in the MIDDLE of NOWHERE
The Mojave phone booth was a public phone built in the middle of nowhere. This phone located in what is now the Mojave National Preserve in California, was built 8 miles or 13 km from the nearest paved road and 15 miles or 24 km from the nearest numbered highway. On top of that there are no buildings for quite some distance from this phone booth. This phone booth has a compelling history, originally built in 1948 to provide phone service to local volcanic cinder miners, this telephone was the result of a mandate the government of California put in place to serve residents in isolated parts of the state. While this phone benefited the few residents of the area as well it built because Cima Cinder Mine owner Emerson Ray put in the request to the state. From 1948 until the 1960s a hand-cranked magneto phone was used. This old style of phone was replaced with a rotary phone in the 60s then eventually a touch-tone phone in the 1970s.
In 1997 this phone booth gained mass attention after a Los Angeles man found this phone booth on a map and visited the site. He wrote a letter about his trip to the phone booth to an underground magazine. A computer entrepreneur by the name of Godfrey Daniels, saw the letter and started the first of many websites dedicated to the Mojave phone booth. Fans started calling the phone and visiting the phone. People even camped out for days at the phone booth just to answer calls coming in. Several of these people kept the recordings and shared them online but overtime too many visitors brought a lot of garbage and graffiti. In 1999 John Glionna, a writer for the Los Angeles Times met with a man who claimed the Holy Spirit had instructed him to stay by the phone and answer it. This man spent 32 days beside the Mojave phone booth answering over 500 calls. One of these calls came from someone who identified himself as Sergeant Zeno from the Pentagon. The phone didn’t last much longer as in 1999 the Cima Cinder Mine was receiving a lot of pressure from local citizens, the National Parks Conservation Association and Mojave National Park. They joined together and threatened to sue Lorene Caffee, Emerson Ray’s daughter, who took over the mine after her father’s passing. The day before the lawsuit was filed, the superintendent of the Preserve visited Caffee which ended with Caffee submitting and ending the 45 year family mining operation.
The next year on May 17, 2000, Pacific Bell removed the phone booth at the request of the National Park Service. The number was retired and a headstone like plaque was placed at the site. This colorful headstone didn’t last long as it was removed by the National Park Service. This story inspired the creation of Dead Line, an independent short film, Mojave Mirage, a documentary, and Mojave Phone Booth, a full length motion picture.
The phone number of the phone booth, (714) 733-9969, changed twice to 619 then 760 due to area code changes. This number was eventually relinquished by AT&T to perrlessnetwork.com in March of 2013 as part of a pooling scheme. The final number (760) 733-9969 was acquired by Lucky225 in July of 2013 was now rings using VOIP. Callers can call in to enjoy a random conversation just like when the phone was active.
Mojave Phone Booth Footage:
Cima Cinder Mine Footage:
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