Amarillo Boulevard is home to countless pieces of Route 66 history.

But I think that one of the most interesting things about this area's history is that it tends to be hidden where you would least expect it.

If that didn't make much sense to you, don't worry. I'll explain.

See this building? Chances are that you've driven by it a thousand times. Am I right?

It's hard to miss, but easy to forget. It's distinctive features tend to catch the eye--like the circular entryway!

Not to mention that giant, oddly-shaped sign out front.

Google Maps

But no sooner than you pass it do you forget it--because the colors aren't quite bright enough and the sign has nothing noteworthy visible on it.

But what if I told you that the building was once a star fixture for countless travelers on Old Route 66? That the colors were so much brighter and the sign had a marvelous marquee that brought people through its doors in droves daily?

It's true. It was once a restaurant known as: Ding How.

thesecretgrotto via eBay
thesecretgrotto via eBay

Built in 1957, the colorful sign of Ding How was unique enough to set the restaurant apart from the many other similar places on that stretch of Route 66. The menu of Chinese-American cuisine was exotic (yet familiar) enough to hold broad appeal for adventurous Americans on a road trip.

Ding How flourished on Old Route 66's stretch through Amarillo, Texas for decades. Indubitably, its foothold in post-war American culture can be benchmarked by its appearance on postcards and matchbooks of the era.

It can be assumed that the realignment of Route 66 cast a dark cloud on the fate of Ding How. I'm uncertain as to when the doors shuttered, but I do know that when legendary photojournalist John Margolies came through town in 1982, the restaurant was well-manicured and in business.

John Margolies (1982)
John Margolies (1982)

But today, Ding How is but building perched on the side of East Amarillo Boulevard. Residents who are alive to tell the tales of Route 66's heyday are quick to tell stories of how Ding How was the place to go to celebrate special occasions.

Time marches on, but out there on East Amarillo Boulevard in the building once known as Ding How...the ghosts of Old Route 66 remain.

The Old Ice House in Borger, Texas

Gallery Credit: Sarah Clark

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