Mojave Phone Booth removal was ILLEGAL and BASELESS. Please bring it back!
Fran Mainella, Director, National Park Service
Friends of the Mojave Phone Booth
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We, the undersigned, are outraged at the tragic act committed by the National Park Service and Pacific Bell on May 17, 2000. On that day, in flagrant violation of the NPS Historic Sites Act of 1935, the Mojave Phone Booth was ripped from its spot near Cima Dome in the Mojave National Preserve, where it had stood for more than 40 years.
The Mojave Phone Booth was, to the extent of anyone's knowledge, the most remote telephone booth in the world, and was a fitting monument to the golden era of telephony before the arrival of cell phones, 10-10 numbers and fiber optics. It gained notoriety in the late 1990s, when a person known as "Deuce of Clubs" discovered it and promoted it on his website.
The booth was telephoned 24 hours a day by people from all over the world, and people began to make pilgrimages to the lonely Southern California desert to answer these calls. It was an innocent, fun and fascinating experience, and other than the usual litter problems associated with people visiting a natural area, no harm was caused to either to the desert or to those who made the drive. The booth's unofficial curator, Charlie Wilcox, assisted stranded motorists and was at the booth nearly every weekend to participate in the festivities. Gatherings were usually small, and estimates were that 25 to 30 people per week traveled via established roads to visit the booth.
However, over the protests of most park rangers and other personnel, Mary G. Martin, superintendent of the Mojave National Preserve, ordered Pacific Bell to remove the booth in May, 2000.
Since then, appeals to Martin, her boss John J. Reynolds, and other officials have either garnered no response or have resulted in a form letter defending the decision. The cited reasons include vegetation damage, although widespread cattle grazing is still openly practiced in the area. There really was no acceptable reason for removing this desert icon, and thousands of people around the world were saddened and outraged by this short-sighted action.
We demand that the National Park Service order the reinstatement of this telephone booth to its rightful place in the Mojave National Preserve, and afford it the same protection and services as they would any other park attraction. Furthermore, we ask for the severe reprimand of Mary Martin and John Reynolds for this action which, as previously stated, violates the National Park Services own laws regarding the preservation of historic artifacts.