Needles is located at the borders of California and Arizona on the west bank of the Colorado River, once serving as an important transportation hub in California. During the mid-1800s, the steamboat trade flourished here as gold, silver, goods, and passengers were transported along the Colorado River. The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, now known as the Santa Fe, replaced the steamboats when tracks were laid through the area starting in 1883. The charter city was founded in 1913. America’s “Mother Road,” Route 66, built through downtown Needles in 1926, spurred growth as new businesses opened to serve travelers. Needles was named for its striking rock formations and is famous for its summer temperatures, but it is ultimately known and remembered as a living icon of an early 20th century town on historic Route 66.
About the Author
Linda Fitzpatrick is retired from the real estate industry and a recipient of the Needles 2007 Chamber of Commerce Humanitarian Award. Jim Conkle is the CEO of the Route 66 Preservation Foundation, chair for the Route 66 Alliance, and editor of the Route 66 Pulse newspaper. Both are charter members of the Needles Downtown Business Alliance and founders of the Friends of the Needles Theatre.
Table of Contents
1 Early Inhabitants: Aboriginal Tribes 9
2 Steamboats on the Colorado: Trade Routes 21
3 Railroad Era: El Garces Hotel and Depot 27
4 Early Needles: Birth of a Town 41
5 World War II: Needles's Participation 67
6 Through the Years: Events, Peoples, and Places 75
7 Businesses: Historic Route 66 97
8 1950s School Days: End of an Era 107