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RIP Death Valley pay phones

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:14 pm
by Candace_66
First they took out the radiator water tanks. Now, in another nod to progress, the Death Valley pay phones are gone. :bawling: ;-)

I don't know about you, but over the years I spent some quality time at the ones in FC and SW. Particularly when there was no cell service available at all. Or when my particular phone/plan wouldn't allow me to call any number other than 911.

I didn't take a pic of it, but all that remains of the pay phone at the Emigrant Campground is the black metal stand the phone was attached to. I think that one disappeared awhile ago.

The phones at the side of the Stovepipe Wells General Store disappeared more recently, IIRC they still existed the last time I was there (earlier this year):


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The ones at FC are long gone, their site completely reworked for the fancy new courtyard seating area set up as part of the recent renovations:

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Last and not least (though this site is barely in the Valley), there was a phone at the vault toilets/entrance kiosk along Hwy 190 on the east side of the Park. But that is also gone.

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So alas, now if I need to make a non-emergency phone call, I am rather out of luck. Because I currently have a non-contract AT&T phone that doesn't play with the towers/provider in DV. Needless to say, I also have no internet access, unless I can get some wifi from one of the facilities in the Park. So no Facebook posts from DVNP summits, but sometimes it is nice when other people can't readily reach me. :D

A few years ago, AT&T Wireless proposed setting up a cell on Rogers Peak, but I don't know what became of that idea.

Re: RIP Death Valley pay phones

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:19 pm
by Gowergulch42
As far as Rogers goes, I have some (possibly outdated) intel on that. As of 2016, their use permit was in the pipeline to maintain their lease atop the mountain. From what I was told, the permit was simply to hold the spot and the tower up there, and would require another permitting process to re-install a transmitter. While it would be convenient for the valley, I would hate to be deep in the forks of Hanaupah and have cell service.

Re: RIP Death Valley pay phones

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:06 am
by TrailHound
Wow! I used those phones - end of an era.

And so more history happens

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:12 am
by Death Valley Dazed
Candace, thanks for the detailed report and photos documenting a bygone era. Who knows what will be happening in the park one hundred years from now?

Re: RIP Death Valley pay phones

Posted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:29 pm
by geomapmaker
i once used a phone at dv junction. that had no dial. just picked up phone operator came on and asked 4 number to call collect. she asked where i was sign said death valley #2. it worked. don't know where death valley #1 was

Re: RIP Death Valley pay phones

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2018 8:36 am
by Death Valley Dazed
geomapmaker wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:29 pm
i once used a phone at dv junction. that had no dial.
How long ago was this, geomapmaker?

Re: RIP Death Valley pay phones

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:11 am
by geomapmaker
i would guess around 1970. it was on a wall across from opera house

Re: RIP Death Valley pay phones

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:45 am
by MojaveGeek
Indeed, I'd used all those phones over the years. As part of my research I had built systems to read me email (but only the important stuff) using text-to-speech, and it could also grab weather forecasts (this was long before the Web, and used Telnet with anonymous login get that info). I accessed it from the various DV payphones, and of course also used them to call family when I was off on a trip, or to check back in after a multi-day backpack.

As for the dial-less phone, I encountered one with the number, IIRC, Lida Junction #2, in about 1990 when I was heading over to Dyer to meet someone and go into the White Mtns.

Re: RIP Death Valley pay phones

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:01 am
by ETAV8R
Is the one at Grapevine Ranger Station still intact? It was operational this past April when I was out that way.

Re: RIP Death Valley pay phones

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:56 pm
by Candace_66
MojaveGeek wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:45 am
As for the dial-less phone, I encountered one with the number, IIRC, Lida Junction #2, in about 1990 when I was heading over to Dyer to meet someone and go into the White Mtns.
Was it in Dyer? Or somewhere else? Maybe in "Oasis", which is the junction of Hwys 266 and 168, southeast of Dyer.

Old phone technology seems to have a way of lingering in the boonies! My friend's mother worked as an operator for GTE in San Bernardino. As I understand it, she was hired because she knew how to work the old-fashioned switchboards. I don't know how many other places were THIS far behind, but she said there was still a hand-cranked phone at Chiracao Summit, CA in the 80's!

Further update re Death Valley: I was at Stovepipe Wells a few weeks ago, and indeed there is no longer a payphone near the hotel registration entrance. So RIP to that one as well.

Re: RIP Death Valley pay phones

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:46 pm
by MojaveGeek
It was at the junction of 266 and 95, Lida Junction, NV. When I was there it was behind the brothel with the airstrip, I think it was called "Cottontail Ranch" or something? Google streetview shows it as gone, as is the entire phone booth.

Dyer's a cute little town. Once I met a guy there, we'd never met, but we were going to do some packing together in the Last Chance Range. He knew the town, I had never visited. He said "You'll have no trouble finding me" :)

Re: RIP Death Valley pay phones

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:38 am
by D.A. Wright
When I lived at Big Pine, I would stop in at the Esmeralda Market in Dyer. Gas prices were always considerably lower than in the Owens Valley. Miscellaneous sundries were far cheaper than KMart in Bishop. Good place to get a cup of coffee, sit on the bench and visit with store employees and other store visitors.

Re: RIP Death Valley pay phones

Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:46 pm
by Aedwards27
Boooooooo.

Keep the payphones. Even though SPW and FCR have pretty good cell service now, it isn't full-proof. As Mojave Geek stated, those 4-5 minutes you got were perfect for checking in with people and letting them know you were alive. I did it many times.

Re: RIP Death Valley pay phones

Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:07 pm
by netllama
Aedwards27 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:46 pm
Boooooooo.

Keep the payphones. Even though SPW and FCR have pretty good cell service now, it isn't full-proof. As Mojave Geek stated, those 4-5 minutes you got were perfect for checking in with people and letting them know you were alive. I did it many times.

Keeping the pay phones cost money. The money that using them generated. If not enough people were using them, then they couldn't be justified.