LAS VEGAS - A phone in the middle of nowhere has been silenced after ringing off the hook for months.
Vandals apparently stole the handset of a phone in an isolated booth which has been the subject of national attention. The lonely booth, which has appeared on national television shows, is located on a remote patch of the Mojave desert in California, 75 miles southwest of Las Vegas.
A media onslaught in the last two months has helped create a cult following for the phone booth. Countless people have either made a pilgrimage to see the booth or called to see who would answer. There have been numerous complaints that the line is almost constantly busy as a result of the media attention.
The phone booth ''has gotten more use of late because of the attention paid to it by the media,'' said Steve Getzug, a spokesman for Pacific Bell. ''We know there are people who make field trips out there just to make a call or to answer it.''
Godfrey Daniels, the isolated booth's unofficial chronicler, initially created interest in the booth through the Internet two years ago.
Since then the phone booth has been featured in various national media. Newspapers in Finland, Sweden and Yugoslavia have also run stories about the desert phone.
A number of people have gone to the site to camp and answer the phone, including one man who spent 32 days there quoting Bible verses to whoever called.
Originally, the booth was essential to the ranchers and miners who live in the isolated area, serving as their only link to the outside world. Now the phone is primarily used by visitors, with most of the area residents using wireless telephone technology.
Pacific Bell planned to send a technician to fix the phone's handset Monday, according to Getzug.