The town started as a water stop for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad in 1883. Ore was found in the neaby hills leading to a boom. By the 1940s, mining in the Mojave had ceased and the town was left with only the tourist traffic from Route 66. When Interstate 40 was built, there was no business left for the town and the residents left leaving empty buildings that still stand beside the old Route 66.
A very small portion of Ludlow abutting Interstate 40 is still constantly inhabited as it contains a gas station and a small tire and repair shop.
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