The History

The History of Amboy, CA and Roy's Motel and Café on Old Route 66
Amboy, California - 1925
March 1925 photo of Amboy. Route 66 is a dirt road but the section through Amboy has been oiled. The building AMBOY painted on the roof is about where Roy's Café would eventually be built. Photo courtesy of Charles O. Fortune.

The History of Amboy, California on Old Route 66

A popular highway that everyone knows about, Route 66. Amboy, California halfway between Barstow and Needles on National Trails Highway. First originated in 1858 as a mining camp, and was named in 1883 when the first railway tracks were being built through this part of California. 1930’s through the 1940’s, Amboy had a population of 200 people. In 1940’s postcards appears in the west, the photo was of east down Route 66. Amboy had 13 businesses, three service stations, two cafes three motor courts, four garages, a post office, a church and a school. Through 1800’s – 1900’s Rail cars started to deliver water to Amboy, every business had their own land water tank. Amboy is best visited in spring and fall, when the weather is cool and clean.

Amboys’ School

The original Amboy school was a wooden structure that was built in 1903, close by the railroad tracks on the southwest side of the town. The school had only two rooms, one room was the first to four graders and the other was for the fifth to eighth graders. Once the students graduated from the eighth grade, they went to a high school in Needles. There is no structure building on the land of the original school, only a tree that used to be in the school playground.  The original building of the school was physically moved to north of the highway to where it is now. In the 1960’s, the old school building was used as a community center, to where they would have movie nights for the community.

Student's in Amboy California
Amboy School 8th grade graduation class of 1945, said to have been the larges in the history of the school. Photo courtesy of Coy Limon.
Conn Pulos
Conn Pulos real name was Constantinos, a Greek immigrant born in Constantinople (now known as Istanbul) and was raised in Athens, Greece. Conn Pulos, at work in the Café kitchen. Photo from Amboy School Yearbook, 1964.

Amboys’ Post Office

The original Amboy post office was located in the service station convenience store, who at the time was run by Conn and Lillie Pulos. Conn later decided to move the post office to a motel cabin. In 1946, there was a fire that happened in the store causing it to burn down, however the post office and the motel survived the fire. The post office was moved to a trailer that is across from Roy’s Motel and Cafe. In 1965, Buster Burris and Art Parke built a modern post office and placed it where the old one would stand. Although there are no homes in Amboy, the post office is still operating to this day. Lorraine Stephens who ran the general store, and lived in Amboy became the postmaster in 1965.

The Crowl’s 

Roy and his daughter Betty Crowl, were the first owners of Roy’s Cafe. Roy and his wife Velma first arrived to Amboy in 1924, their car broke down while traveling to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, they were not able to pay for their car repair, Roy had to work as a mechanic and then later as a dragline operator in Saltrus for California Rock Salt, and Velma started to work as a cook in one of Amboy’s Cafes. Roy saw a business opportunity in 1940, and then he later purchases 4 acres of land. Roy and his son in law Buster built a service station and a garage out of railroad tires. Not long after Roy opened a Cafe and 4 to 5 small overnight cabins, who then later became popular landmark on Route 66 in California.

Roy Crowl and Fred Ansiel
Roy Crowl (left), for whom Roy's is named, with Fred Ansiel, the former Amboy School principal. Caption on the original photo is "Jeep sold". Photo from the Amboy School Yearbook, 1970.
Bill Lee's Texaco Station, Route 66
Bill Lee's Texaco station in Amboy on the north side of the highway, west of what is now Roy's Cafe. The station demolished in 1973 when the last owners, the Kleins, moved away. Nothing remains of this today except a vacant lot. Photo courtesy of Martha Burnau.

Roy’s Cafe

Roy’s Motel & Cafe was first opened as a gas and service station in 1938, on Route 66. It was first known as Roy’s Garage, then was changed to Roy’s Garaged and Cafe and is now known as just Roy’s Motel & Cafe. Roy’s son in law Buster decided to build a store room next to the garage to keep spare parts. Roy’s daughter Betty then turned the store room into a Cafe, right after it was built. The famous Roy’s Motel & Cafe is one of the few buildings that are still operating until this day. Roy and his wife Velma operated Roy’s until they retired in 1959. Roy’s Motel & Cafe was later than owned by his daughter Better and his son in law Buster through 1959 to 1978. In 2003, Roy’s Motel & Cafe was sold to a philanthropist by the name of Albert Okura.