When Roy’s Hotel is not ground zero for multiple thriller film shoots or welcoming the throngs of dusty tourists getting their fair share of the Route 66 experience, the quiet of Amboy settles in all around.
The solitude is so profound it’s almost deafening. The peace of the ghost town with its long-abandoned St. Raymond Church and nearby pioneer graveyard consumes you. It invites you to explore and renew. Give yourself time to absorb this little time capsule of a town.
There are approximately 47 graves at Amboy Cemetery inside the perimeter fence and 8 graves outside of the perimeter of the fence. There are no headstones in the cemetery; all of the markers are wooden crosses.
Most of the crosses are standing upright but leaning precariously like tired miners after a hard day at work.
The mounds over most of the graves are covered with pebbles and some graves are ringed by stone or brick borders bleached white from the relentless Mojave sun.
Two of the crosses on the north side of the cemetery used to have tin plates nailed to the crosses with inscriptions in Spanish but have since been removed, belonging to a five year old and 62 year old persons. A stillborn baby born of the Gutierrez family is buried outside the perimeter fence on the East side.
Former residents of Amboy have confirmed that two infants named Anthony Montiel and Bertha Montiel are among those buried in the cemetery, but the exact location of their burial sites cannot be established as the wooden crosses do not bear inscriptions.
Most of the graves have faded plastic rosaries on them, one has an empty snow globe, it’s water long-ago evaporated.
There isn’t really much of the fence left that once enclosed the cemetery. The fence posts outnumber the railings. Why some graves are outside the fence perimeter remains a mystery but it could have been merely due to overcrowding.
Most of the fence has succumbed to the dry desert winds. There are a few small piles of splintered wood on the ground, faded like old memories. It is not unusual to see stories-high dust devils blow through the area kicking up long plumes of whirling debris.
The Bristol Mountains and Amboy Crater in the distance keep an eternal vigil.
As newly appointed volunteer BLM Public Land Site Stewards working closely with an archaeologist, we will be taking care of this serene final resting place in the desert, as well as a few more.
Even those long-departed and known only to God deserve our utmost respect.