Needles Chamber of Commerce
These are a wealth of information for any tourist/visitor. This buildling may not look like much, but does such a service for the city. Do not ever be afraid to seek out any cities chamber of commerce. Lots of info available here.
P.O. Box 705 Needles, CA. 92363
Needles Chamber of Commerce
Exit from Interstate 40 exit onto J Street turn left and then make a right onto West Broadway and then turn left onto G Street.
A tip from one Peanuts fan to another
I don't know much about Needles other than the fact that it's the California gateway town on Historic Route 66 and, most importantly, it's the hometown of Snoopy's brother, Spike.
My friends and I were on our way to the Grand Canyon, and we stopped in Needles to fill up the tank and to find the perfect photo op. I was hoping to find a "Welcome to Needles" sign (certainly in the realm of possibility) or a Needles Tourist Center (okay, less so) in front of which I could pose my Spike plushie. After seeking in vain for such a sign, I was ready to settle for a postcard. After being sent to Basha's and Burkes (I know I'm butchering the spelling of these stores) and finding postcards for every town in the vincinity *except* Needles, I was ready to give up. Until I spotted the Needles Transit sign. "Stop the car!" I begged my friend who was driving. "We can put an end to this now!" Don't ask me why a town that doesn't even rate its own postcard has a transit system. And judging from the cracked sign, my guess is it doesn't get much use (and frankly I can't imagine anyone being willing to breathe the furnace-like air in Needles long enough to wait for a bus). But it said Needles, and that was good enough for this Snoopy fan.
If you want to do your own photo op, the bus stop sign is close to the entrance to Burkes: 1080 East Broadway, Needles, CA 92363.
I have to say, though, this town is missing an opportunity by not capitalizing on or at least making reference to the Peanuts connection. I was expecting to find at *least* one Spike doll leaning against a plush cactus in a store, but... nothing. And as Route 66 continues to fade into nostalgia, I think more young people will come to have heard of Needles solely through the comic. I don't know if they would need permission from the Shulz estate, but someone certainly should take the initiative to find out.
[Note: feel free to read my intro to Needles for more background.]
Route 66 Mother Road
Route 66 joins the Interstate at Park Moabi and heads west towards Needles. The original route is a few miles down I-40 take the Five-Mile Station Road exit to get back on Route 66 and enter Needles on Front Street. This is where you will see one of the original attractions. El Garces Hotel/Santa Fe Depot!
Here are some great resources to find out more about Route 66:
Route 66 Mother Road Museum
Located in the Historic Harvey House
681 N. First Ave.
Barstow, CA 92311
Hours: Friday - Sunday
11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Mojave River Valley Museum
270 E. Virginia Way
Barstow, California 92311
Exit I-15 at Barstow Road. Go north one block.
Open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is free
Focus is on local and regional history of the Mojave Desert. Some wonderful displays and exhibits.
California Route 66 Museum
"Where the Trails Meet"
16825 D Street
Victorville, CA 92393-2151
Hours: Thursday thru Monday
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Long before the arrival of the white man, Needles was home to The Mojave - Aha Macav, or Pipa Aha Macav, - the people by the river. The people by the river were farmer who grew crops of beans, corn, and pumpkins and used irrigation to water their crops. They were expert fishermen by using nets and catching small games with traps. They were expert pottery makers by using the clay from the river. They were known for their body decoration of tattooing that included all members of the tribes. Now they live on the reservation called Fort Mojave Indian Tribe. Their descendants have lived here for at least a thousand years.
The Colorado River brought settlements and in the late 1850's Lt. Edward F. Beale recommended that a fort be established in the area for protection of travelers from Indians. Fort Mojave was established in 1859 and was soon a route along the old Mojave Road, traveled extensively by the military, settlers to the gold fields of California.
In 1883 the railroad arrived established the settlement called Needles due to the sharp peaks at the south of the valley. In 1890 the Red Rock steel cantilever bridge was built to replace the old wooden one.
"The El Garces Harvey House and Train Depot"
Built 1908, The El Garces Hotel/Santa Fe Depot was once one of the crown jewels of the Harvey Houses with its lovely ornate structure that served as a train station, restaurant, and hotel. It stopped serving passengers around 1949, but was still being used by Santa Fe till 1988. She sat abandon and derelict until in 1993 when the Friends of El Garces and the City of Needles saved her. The city bought her from Santa Fe for $130,000 and now she is being completely restored.
Where are we?
Ok, I have to be honest here. I didn't spend much time in Needle's, but the time I was there was definately worth reporting.
Me, my Father, my Mother, and three kids, were on our way to Las Vegas, in a way too small minivan. My parents are generally negative and grumypy. But hey, I love them. My children were; 5/girl, 7/boy, and 9/boy. We started out in southeast Texas, so the scene in the van was not a pretty one.
My father, who knows it all, accidentally took a wrong route. We drove for many miles before HE realized this. Shortly after he did it, I noticed, but as he said, "I've been driving for more years than you've been alive." So, I did what any respectful daughter would do, and promptly shut up.
Finally, my Dad said, "I think WE'VE made a wrong turn." LOL I just agreed and said, "Yes, do you want me to drive now?" So, we changed places. I was enjoying the drive when all of a sudden, we come to this vehicle check. They asked if we had any fruit or vegetables in the car? I was baffled and said, "Only these grapes." All the time I'm not sure, but am thinking, why would they ask this unless we were entering California? We are in Arizona, not California. We all had a nice long conversation that lasted about 30 minutes, about why they would be asking that? Finally we see a sign that said, we were in Needles. LOL Duh!!!!!!!!!! Didn't I realize before? Didn't I ask myself that? How could I not get it? LOL Anyway, that was worth a good laugh, for all but my Dad. He was grumbling in the back seat, "how on earth did we end up in California? We didn't get that lost? Sister, where have you gotten off to now?" LOL You gotta love those old honory Texas Hicks, don't you? All I could do was laugh. But still.........that is not the best part. The best part was this particular road that we ended up on.
We entered Hwy 95 from I-40,just out of Arizona. After we passed that mysterious food check, we noticed that there was something unique about this road. The speed limit was fast. I think 70 mph. The road itself was 2 laned, curvy, and had the most amazing hills. It was like being on a rollercoaster. My kids and I had the best time flying down that road. I think what made it more fun, was that Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw couldn't say anything about our speed, because we were driving the speed limit. I mean...................they wouldn't want us to break the law, would they?
I know this may not sound like a very big deal. But trust me, after 3 days in that too small minivan, with 2 very grumpy grandparents, and with 3 small children, This was a blast. It was something me and my kids will never forget. They still ask, 6 yrs later, "Mom, you remember that really cool road we were on in California?".
Sometimes it is the unexpected and simplest things that give us the best memories.