Mojave phone booth
|Location||Mojave National Preserve, California|
|Removed||May 17, 2000|
|Telephone number||(760) 733-9969|
The Mojave phone booth was a lone telephone booth in what is now the Mojave National Preserve in California, which attracted online attention in 1997 due to its unusual location. Placed in the 1960s, the booth was eight miles (13 km) from the nearest paved road, fifteen miles (24 km) from the nearest numbered highway, and miles from any buildings. Its telephone number was originally (714) 733-9969, before the area code changed to 619 and then to 760.
The original hand-cranked magneto phone was set up in the 1960s to provide telephone service to local volcanic cinder miners and others living in the area. The government of California mandated that a network of "policy stations" be placed to service residents of isolated parts of the state. The Mojave booth, located at the intersection of two remote dirt roads, probably replaced an earlier booth located 30 miles to the south. The original rotary phone was replaced with a touch-tone model in the 1970s.
The phone became a sensation on the Internet in 1997. A Los Angeles man spotted a telephone icon on a map of the Mojave and decided to visit it. He wrote a letter about his adventure to an underground magazine, and included the booth's number. Godfrey Daniels, a local computer entrepreneur, read the letter and started the first of several websites devoted to the Mojave telephone booth. Soon, fans called the booth attempting to get a reply, and a few took trips to the booth to answer, often camping out at the site. Several callers kept recordings of their conversations. Over time, the booth became covered in graffiti, as many travelers would leave messages on it.
In 1999 Los Angeles Times writer John Glionna reported on meeting a man at the booth who claimed the Holy Spirit had instructed him to answer the phone. The man spent 32 days there, answering more than 500 phone calls including repeated calls from someone who identified himself as "Sergeant Zeno from the Pentagon".
The booth was removed by Pacific Bell on May 17, 2000, at the request of the National Park Service. Per Pacific Bell policy, the phone number was permanently retired. Officially, the removal was done to halt the environmental impact of visitors, though pressure from locals unhappy with the increased traffic may have contributed. Additionally, a letter written by the then-superintendent of the Mojave National Preserve mentions confronting Pacific Bell with some long-forgotten easement fees. A headstone-like plaque was later placed at the site, but it too, was removed by the National Park Service. Fans of the booth also claim that Pacific Bell destroyed the actual enclosure after its removal.
The story inspired the creation of an independent short film, Dead Line, and a full-length motion picture, Mojave Phone Booth. The booth was also an inspiration for the prologue of the Glenn Beck novel The Overton Window.
- "The Mojave Phone Booth". BBC. August 16, 2006. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
- John M. Glionna, "Reaching Way Out" Los Angeles Times, September 18, 1999. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
- "What is the Mojave Phone Booth?". Wisegeek.com. Retrieved 2010-09-12.
- Mary Martin (June 9, 2000). "NPS correspondence".
- Xochitl666 (October 12, 2004). "The Final fate of the Phone Booth". The Original Mojave Phone Booth Site. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- The Mojave Phone Booth Project - The site which originated the booth fad
- Mission: Hang it Up
- About.com: The Mojave Phone Booth
- Desert Tripper's phone booth visits and commentary on the booth's removal
- PayPhoneBox Index of payphone numbers and photographs of payphones in unusual or famous places around the world.
- Mojave Phone Booth Overview