Could several forgotten desert villages along Highway 66 become what Radiator Springs became in Hollywood?

(4/17/13) – Whose going to represent Lightning McQueen's courage in real life?
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Few Californians may know where a place called Ludlow is, but what’s left of a once-booming village out in the middle of the southern Mojave Desert are few retail outlets catering to the needs of passing I-40 travelers. Ludlow was once a robust village with a rich history. Most of the activity dwindled with the dawning of the freeway as motorists bypassed businesses located along the historic Highway 66 or what is now known as Old National Trails Highway.

Similar stories can be told for the villages of Amboy, Essex, and other Highway 66 stops, but only worse. Since the old Highway 66 veers to the south and away from the interstate east of Ludlow, these remaining villages are now on the verge of becoming ghost towns as I-40 travelers and truckers no longer stop there. Does all of this sound like the true version of the story of Radiator Springs from the “Cars” Disney film?

Hope is underway and some investors have already started to pour money into these lost towns. No, Lightning McQueen is not going to bail out Amboy by setting up shop there, but the corridor has been sparking interest. Since Highway 66 has been drawing attention from preservationists and historians, the deviating segment east of Ludlow might be seeing some market demand for tourism and leisure. Add to that potential logistics points served by the existing BNSF rail line and heat energy sources.

With these assets, these small towns could one day become what Radiator Springs became: Several forgotten towns transforming into robust tourist destinations and producers of renewable energy. One result could be additional marketplace passenger trains between Los Angeles and Flagstaff with stops at each town. San Bernardino County officials should consider clearing the way for potential revitalization of these almost forgotten villages. Who's going to represent McQueen's courage in real life?


  1. BNSF has no interest in leisure tourist trains stopping at each town. The railway has an endless line of tightly scheduled trains running 24-7 across its rails. Has The Transit Coalition taken the time to talk to BNSF regarding the practicality of its ideas?

    Radiator Springs is a Disney cartoon. The reality is that the life cycle of a town like Amoy is over. The town served a limited niche that has ended.

    Limited assets need to be invested in future growth, not the past's ghosts.

  2. Currently, the business climate at the state and federal level would prohibit such innovation of establishing BNSF passenger service, however Class One railroads have been open to incentives of reinstating passenger service should they be given the opportunity. Forbes reported about this during the 2012 election.

    There is a potential that the Route 66 towns could be revitalized in the future as investors have been exploring the area, but as stated, the current business climate makes this very difficult.


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