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Needles (El Garces)

Needles exists because of the Santa Fe Railroad which crossed the Colorado River into California in 1883.  When the original wooden depot was destroyed by fire, the Santa Fe began construction of a concrete and steel depot and hotel.  The El Garces opened in 1908 and became known as the "Crown Jewel" of the Harvey Houses.  El Garces closed as a Harvey House in 1949.

When I visited El Garces in February 2003, it was surrounded by a chain link fence.  Over the last three and one-half years millions of dollars have gone into removing the asbestos, ripping out the walls and lowered ceilings installed by the Santa Fe when it used the building for offices, and installing a sprinkler system, etc.  Recently, an agreement was reached with Allan Affeldt, who was responsible for the restoring La Posada in Winslow, to supervise the restoration of El Garces into a working hotel and restaurant.  Moreover, the city council has agreed to the closing of a nearby at-grade crossing without which overnight guests would be subjected to the two long-one short-one long whistles required by every train approaching the crossing.  At least some portion of the hotel/restaurant should be open by El Garces' 100th anniversary.