Amboy might not be a bustling metropolis or tourist hotspot, but this tiny settlement located in Southern California’s Mojave Desert has become one of the more important staging points on Route 66. What started as a humble railroad community established in the 1800s, Amboy later morphed into an essential stopover for travelers cruising along America’s Mother Road during the highway’s golden years. Today, this unassuming town offers history, solitude, and a unique experience for anyone venturing along the storied Route 66.
### A Brief History of Amboy, California
Amboy was a late-19th-century railway town founded by Lewis Kingman. As Santa Fe Railroad began laying tracks across the region, there was a need for towns to provide water stops and maintenance for steam engines. Thus sprouted Amboy, strategically positioned between two railway lines, initially serving as a key location for railroad crews to refuel on water and rest during their journeys.
However, it wasn’t until Route 66 was officially commissioned in 1926 that Amboy began to emerge as a significant stop along this new highway route. Nestled perfectly between Los Angeles and Chicago, Route 66 became known as America’s Main Street and rapidly grew to become the preferred roadway for cross-country travel.
As automobiles gained prominence and leisure travel grew more popular throughout the mid-20th century, Amboy further evolved into an essential pit stop for weary drivers. Businesses catering to motorists’ needs cropped up overnight – gas stations, motels, cafes, etc. Amboy had found its niche as a true staging point on America’s Mother Road.
### Top Sights in Amboy
While much of its old infrastructure has decayed with time, visitors today can still catch a glimpse of what made Amboy so special back in the day. Explorers driving through should make sure to check out these iconic landmarks:
1. **Roy’s Motel and Café**: Possibly Amboy’s most famous landmark, Roy’s Motel and Café is an iconic slice of Americana boasting its historic Googie-style architecture and towering vintage neon sign. Opened in 1938 by founder Roy Crowl, this roadside oasis once offered travelers everything from lodging to dining options to fuel service. Though the motel itself is no longer operational, Roy’s Café successfully reopened in recent years as a fuel station and souvenir shop.
2. **Amboy Crater**: A short distance away from Route 66 lies the impressive Amboy Crater – a volcanic cinder cone that rises about 250 feet above the barren desert floor. The crater is estimated to be around 79,000 years old and is relatively accessible from Route 66 via a short hike along its designated trailhead. Adventurous explorers are rewarded with incredible panoramic views at its rim.
3. **Amboy School**: One of the few remnants of Amboy’s past is its now-abandoned schoolhouse that once served local students until operations ceased in 1999 due to dwindling enrollment numbers. Dilapidated but still standing proudly in its desert location, the school offers visitors an eerie yet fascinating peek into life during Amboy’s heyday.
### Why You Should Stop by
Yes, it may be off-the-beaten-path and quieter than many traditional tourist destinations. Still, there is something genuinely captivating about experiencing communities like Amboy – relics that capture the essence of a bygone era when America’s road trip culture was at its zenith.
Included among other significant landmarks embodying our nation’s history – Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace or Plymouth Rock – are these modest settlements who played their roles in developing cross-country travel infrastructure for eager explorers traversing Route 66.
As you drive along this legendary highway—listening to classic tunes from yesteryears coupled with mesmerizing desert landscapes—it is worth making a stop at Amboy. Stretch your legs, explore its forgotten corners and appreciate how history unfolds before your eyes – this is where the spirit of America’s Mother Road continues to thrive well into the 21st century!