Orbital View: Busy Blues Above a Ghost Town

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

There seems to be a lot going on in this stunning picture:

Sh*t! Forgot to save the location

A photo posted by The Jefferson Grid (@the.jefferson.grid) on

One commenter has a hunch: It’s Amboy, California. And a Google maps search confirms it:

There’s a lot less going on in the area than the picture suggests. Located over 100 miles from Las Vegas, Amboy is a ghost town—in more than once sense. The abandoned highway outpost, which reportedly boasts a population of four, has a history of alleged paranormal activity. According to Las Vegas news channel KSNV News3LV:

The town itself dates back to the mid-1800s. Settlers from a nearby mining claim developed it. A cemetery on the outskirts still has the grave sites of about 30 children who died from an unknown disease.

Then came the railroad, followed by Route 66. Amboy flourished, adding a school and a church. “At one time, we were told that Roy's employed over a hundred people," said Carol Aceves, Town Manager. [...]

Eventually, all of that progress came to a screeching halt. “In the 70s when that interstate opened up, everything just went dead around here,” said Aceves. And perhaps not just figuratively. According to Aceves, there have been many reports of ghosts and paranormal activity in town. Noises heard at the church, also the Amboy school. The classrooms today are still littered with books and notepads.

“We heard kids screaming and having fun, like a typical day in school. But it was in the middle of the night and we know there was nobody there,” he said. In one of the motel rooms, they say, blood suddenly appeared on one of the walls. Blood that had not been there the day before.


(See all Orbital Views here)