In 1997, a prolific columnist in Arizona was made aware of a payphone in California's Mojave desert, several miles off Interstate 15 on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Obsessed with this lonesome artifact, he began calling it daily at (760) 733-9969 until a local resident named Lorene Caffee actually answered it.

After publishing accounts of his experiences with the booth on his web site Deuce Of Clubs the booth became internationally famous, attracting visitors, media, and callers from everywhere. Tom Brokaw even narrated a news segment about the booth during a prime time NBC news broadcast. The booth had also become a popular diversion for hipsters on their way to Burning Man, and groups of people would regularly camp out near the booth, ready to answer calls from all over the world.

It couldn't last forever, though. The booth was clearly too famous for its own good, drawing negative attention from both the phone company and the government. In September, 2000, after enjoying years of media popularity, the booth vanished, the result of a very unceremonious removal by the phone company. All that is left are the photos and stories from the thousands of people whose lives were permanently changed by the booth.

At one time, there was a phone booth located about fifteen miles off of Interstate 15, in the Mojave Desert. Installed in the 1960s to provide for miners digging for volcanic ash (used to make cinderblocks, roadbeds, and other similar products), the phone was removed in May 2000 by Pacific Bell, apparently at the urging of the United States National Park Service. Unfortunately, this was the only phone service available to Terry and Lorene Caffee, owners of the nearby Cima Cinder Mine.

Pac Bell representative Steve Allen said of the booth in 1998, "Though the initial installation date is not known, the Pacific Bell pay phone on Aiken Mine Road has been there for several decades. It was put there originally as a policy station, a California program that mandates phone installation for the safety, health and welfare of residents in remote locations."

A joint press release from both the National Park Service and Pacific Bell stated, "After weighing the environmental concerns and public need, Pacific Bell and the National Park Service agreed to remove a pay phone located in a remote pocket of the Mojave National Preserve. While the phone and its location proved to be a novelty for some in recent months, the increased public traffic had a negative impact on the desert environment in the nation's newest national park."

As of September 10, 2000, the concrete slab which the booth once rested upon was found to be missing.

The phone's number, which may ring somewhere now but certainly not there, was 760-733-9969.


  1. Desert pay phone cut off. BBC News (
  2. The Original Mojave Phone Booth Site. (
  3. Hartley, Lara. The Loneliest Phone Booth Makes its Final Disconnection, Desert Dispatch (Periodical)

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