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The Mojave Phone Booth

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mojave phone booth map

Mojave Phone Booth

U. S. Geological Survey Map

People become obsessed with the oddest things. A case in point: A lonely phone booth in the Mojave Desert gathered its own cult following and eventually fell victim to its own popularity. There all kinds of theories about what it all meant, but this is the story:

Mojave Phone Booth Discovered

In May, 1997 Godfrey Daniels from Arizona read a magazine story reporting that a "Mr. N" noticed a small dot with the word "telephone" next to it 15 miles from anywhere on a map of the Mojave Desert. Consumed by curiosity, N drove out to see the phone booth and published its number.

N was done, but Godfrey became obsessed. He called the Mojave Phone Booth every day, logging all his calls, even though no one answered. He tortured his friends when they visited, making them call the phone booth too. Finally, after about a month, his persistence paid off. He called the booth and got a busy signal. After uncounted redials, a woman named Lorene answered. Lorene runs a cinder mine in the vicinity and had come to the phone booth to make a call. Godfrey's obsession didn't end with talking to Lorene. He has since made five pilgrimages to the booth, four of which are chronicled at his web site.

Mojave Phone Booth Becomes Famous

In July, 1999 Godfrey and a band of friends, including Andria Fiegel Wolfe who came with her sister Laurie, visited the phone booth. In four hours they took 72 phone calls from all over the United States and Canada and as far away as Germany and Australia. Most were from people who had seen Godfrey's website.

Chuck learned about the booth from Steve, who learned about it from Godfrey. He called the phone and found it busy. At 2:00 a.m. He decided it must be off the hook and asked Steve, a total stranger, to join him on a journey To Hang it Up. Because, after all, what good is a phone booth in the middle of the desert if you can't call and hear it ring? They braved ominous trucks carrying caskets, a Denny's full of senior citizens and fifteen miles of washboarded road to get to the booth, only to find out it wasn't off the hook, it was out of order! (The phone was subsequently repaired.)

Los Angeles Times writer John Glionna met 51-year-old Rick Karr at the phone booth. Karr claims the Holy Spirit told him to answer the phone. For 32 days, he answered more than 500 phone calls including repeated calls from someone who identified himself as "Sergeant Zeno from the Pentagon."

The Mojave Phone Booth (and Godfrey) became minor celebrities. They received coverage in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, through CNN and in newspapers around the world.

The End of the Mojave Phone Booth

Then it happened: Three years after it was discovered, the phone booth fell victim to its own popularity.

On May 23, 2000 the San Jose Mercury News reported that Pacific Bell and the National Park Service had removed the booth because it was attracting too many curiosity seekers. The last time we checked, Godfrey was still keeping its memory alive.

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