History Of Small Town
Submitted by Dan Wilson
Amboy CA – The sleepy town of Amboy California is waking up with the opening of the famous Roy’s Gas Station. The station sits on the corner of historic Route 66 (also known as the circa 1910 National Trails Highway) and Amboy Road, in the tiny community of Amboy. The restaurant and gas station was first opened in 1938 by Roy and Velma Crowl.
A Little History
The couple had two children, Lloyd Irwin and Betty, who helped run the business. Betty married Herman “Buster” Burris who road into town on horseback. Later Buster teamed up with her father in the business. They kept the gas station and café open 24-hours a day and later added a motel. During the 1940s business was brisk with travelers along Route 66.
Lloyd moved to Twentynine Palms about 50 miles to the south, but continued to travel back and forth to work at the salt mines east of Amboy. In 1972 Interstate 40 opened to the north and the town lost nearly all of its business. Before the Interstate the town boasted over 100 residents, but nearly everyone was forced to move.
Death of the Founder
Roy died in 1977 and Buster took over the business. Betty died of cancer in the 1970’s and Buster later remarried a woman named Bessie. Buster was able to work at the station even into his 80s. He was able to change tires on trucks and buses until he finally retired. The café was known for great burgers and chili.
Although Buster burned most of the buildings to avoid a tax liability, he continued to operate the station until he sold the town in 2000 just before he died at age 92. Due to foreclosure, the investors, Walt Wilson and Tim White, were forced to relinquish control back to Bessie Burris in 2005.
Bessie sold the property quickly to Albert Okura, owner of the Juan Pollo Restaurant chain. Okura offered $425,000 in cash and promised to preserve the town and reopen Roy's. There was a lot to do including reestablishing water and electricity. After sinking over $100,000 in renovation and fixing the damage caused by vandals, Okura was able to reopen the gas station on April 24th 2008.
San Bernardino First District Supervisor, Brad Mitzelfelt, helped the new owners cut through some red-tape to get the station open. “I’m happy to see this historic landmark reopened,” said Mitzelfelt, who represents the area. “Roy’s will provide a much-needed rest stop for travelers on Route 66.”
Okura also plans to open the café and mini-mart at the same location.