ROY'S Motel and Cafe Sign on Route 66 in Amboy, California (Mojave Desert)
This photo was taken by Jonas Hansson, a very good Swedish friend of mine, on his trip with his father Hans in 2006 (via their vintage Volvo PV convertible) across the USA on Route 66. With Jonas' permission, I've been selecting some of my favorite photos of their road trip along the "Mother Road" and doing some post processing... enhancing, cropping, tone mapping, special effects, etc. This is a photo of the Roy's Motel and Cafe sign on Route 66 in Amboy, California. The original photo was underexposed so I tried to spiff it up with cropping and Photoshop enhancements and effects.
As the song by Bobby Troup goes:
If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way, the highway that's the best.
Get your kicks on Route 66!
Below is a link to Hans and Jonas' blog about their historic trip:
HISTORY AND INFORMATION ON: Roy's Motel and Cafe
Roy's Motel and Café is located on Historic Route 66 in Amboy, California. The town of Amboy itself is located in the Mojave Desert. Roy's is pretty much the only thing in Amboy, and Amboy is pretty much a ghost town. The new owner (see below) has done some general tidying up and painting. In 2007, the cafe was sort-of open – a couple of folks running the place, and selling t-shirts and bottled water (but no food). The cottages had a new coat of paint, but the interiors were still run-down.
Roy's Motel and Cafe is a landmark motel, cafe, gas station and automotive repair facility along National Trails Highway in Amboy, California, USA. Presently out of operation and under the private ownership of an individual who owns the entire town, Roy's is considered to be a major U.S. Route 66 landmark and is the most significant remaining complex in the mostly empty town.
In 1938, founder Roy Crowle opened Roy's as a service station along what was then U.S. Highway 66 in Amboy. At the time, Route 66 was the nation's main east-west thoroughfare. The construction of Roy's coincided with a more direct realignment of Route 66 between Needles and Essex. In the 1940s, Crowle teamed up with his son-in-law, Herman "Buster" Burris. They expanded the business to include a cafe, an auto repair facility and a number of small cabins for overnight use by travelers along Route 66. Burris himself almost singlehandedly created the town's infrastructure, some of which remains today. Burris even went so far as to run power to Roy's and the town itself all the way from Barstow by erecting his own poles and wires along 66 with the help of an old Studebaker truck.
Postwar business boomed as families discovered the joys of motor travel after years of fuel and tire rationing and the lack of availability of new cars. Crowle and Burris kept Roy's operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week; so busy was Roy's that Burris took out classified ads in newspapers across the country in the hope of recruiting help. By the start of the 1950s, Roy's employed up to 70 people; the town's entire population at the time was 700.
What was quite possibly the most significant change to Roy's came in 1959 with the erection of the now-famous neon sign on February 1 of that year along with the construction of the "flying wedge" office building/guest reception area.
The opening of Interstate 40 some distance north of 66 in 1972 meant what was quite literally the overnight loss of business; Burris himself was quoted as saying that his business "went down to zero" the day I-40 opened. Roy Crowle passed away in 1977 with Burris continuing the business for what comparatively few travelers now used decommissioned 66. Burris had strong views against rowdy bikers and men with long hair and chased off many an "unsavory" visitor at gunpoint.
During Amboy's decline, Roy's became the town's only business outside of the chloride works and post office and continued to attract visitors long after its decline, including some well-known names. Actors Harrison Ford and Anthony Hopkins had autographed photos on the walls of the restaurant and visited whenever their schedules allowed. Ford frequently flew in and landed his plane on a nearby landing strip, one of the first ever built in California. Though Roy's remains closed at present, both it and Amboy still beckon travelers to and from the Colorado River as well as those interested in Route 66 lore. Part of the 1986 motion picture The Hitcher with Rutger Hauer was filmed in Amboy while both the reception area and neon sign helped establish the setting for a 1999 television commercial for Qwest Communications. It was also used in the Enrique Iglesias music video for his hit single, Hero.
In 1995, Burris leased the entire town to Walt Wilson and Tim White, who saw the value of maintaining the location in weathered, worn condition as a film location site. Wilson and White purchased the entire town for US$710,000, Burris died later that year at age 92.
Wilson and White continued to sell gasoline, food and Route 66 souvenirs at Roy's, but the operating hours were sporadic, the menu limited, the management reportedly surly to many visitors and gasoline almost prohibitively expensive given the facility's remote location; even a single glass of tap water in the cafe cost US$1. They offered Amboy for sale on eBay in 2003, but it went unsold.
Burris's widow Bessie repossessed the town after it went into foreclosure and sold it to Albert Okura on May 3, 2005 after Okura convinced her because he pledged to restore and reopen Roy's and offered $425,000 in cash. Okura, owner of the Juan Pollo restaurant chain, has faced challenges in getting simple things like electricity and water restored. Most of Okura's hurdles have been in the form of the town's basic infrastructure, most of it laid by Burris himself as indicated earlier and not of modern building code. According to the first link listed below, Okura has a history of being a preservationist; he is also the owner of the world's first McDonald's in San Bernardino, California and operates it as a museum.
Unlike Wilson and White who wanted to maintain the facility and town in "weathered" condition for use as a film location, Okura plans to fully restore Roy's to its former glory as a tourist destination and rest stop for travelers to and from the Colorado River and has taken the first steps in doing so.