Today's Article - The Mojave phone booth

This article is for quizzes on Monday October 17th...

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 for its unusual location. Installed 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 phone booth was originally set up in 1948 to provide telephone service to local volcanic cinder miners and others living in the area, at the request of Emerson Ray, who owned the Cima Cinder Mine nearby. It was part of a network of "policy stations" placed by mandate of the California government to serve residents of isolated parts of the state. The Mojave booth, at the intersection of two remote dirt roads, probably replaced an earlier booth 30 miles (48 km) to the south. The original hand-cranked magneto phone was replaced with a payphone in the 1960s. The 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 ISP 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 began calling the booth, 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 left by visitors.

 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 calls, including several from someone who identified himself as "Sergeant Zeno from the Pentagon".


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