Route 66 Side Trip
El Garces Restoration
El Garces Harvey House
|The El Garces Harvey House and Train Depot has been an important part of the history of the Needles area from the very start. The original Needles Depot was destroyed by fire in the early 1900s. A new depot was needed. Construction of the El Garces followed shortly after in 1906. The building was completed in 1908. El Garces was named after the Spanish Padre who visited the area in 1776. Because the primary purpose of the El Garces was to serve the passengers who came through on the Santa Fe Railroad, its most ornate side faced the railroad tracks.|
|The El Garces was one of the famous Fred Harvey establishments that were located along the railroad tracks throughout the southwest. Fred Harvey provided a touch of class for the traveling public, and the El Garces was one of the finest in his chain of hotel restaurants. The El Garces was closed as a Harvey House in 1949, and was used as offices for the Santa Fe Railroad until 1988.|
|It was finally closed at this time and fell victim to the ravages of time and vandals. The Friends of El Garces was formed in 1993 to help save this historic train depot. Extensive renovation efforts are underway at this time but your support is needed as the total cost of restoration is estimated at $7 to $8 million dollars.|
|The El Garces is one of the more ornate and imposing Santa Fe Railroad depots and Harvey Houses to remain in the fabled southwest. It is a one-of-a-kind example of the grander of railroad passenger travel from a time when the railroads ruled. The history of the people who passed through this way exemplifies our American culture. The preservation of the El Garces is important to preserve this history for future generations to enjoy. New discoveries are being made all the time. The ornate fountain was believed to have been dismantled in the 1930s. A recent discovery shows that it was just covered over. Plans are being made to restore the fountain back to the way it was in the golden age of train travel.|
Route 66 Legend: Maggie McShan
Maggie (right) and her friend Vivian Davies, author of the California Historic Route 66 Guidebook.
Maggie in front of her Antique Shop ~ a 65 year old restored farm house that she saved from demolition.
|Maggie McShan knows Needles and Route 66
in the Mojave, she should, she came to Needles almost 70 years ago as a young bride. When
she got off the train at the El Garces Harvey House she got her first glimpse of Needles.
What excited her the most? Why the palm trees of course! The Native Americans and fancy
fountain at the depot were a close second. Maggie soon fell in love with the area.
Throughout the years she has become quite involved with the historic preservation of our
precious heritage. In fact to the roadies of Route 66 Maggie has become a Route 66 icon in
her own right. Spending time with Maggie and listening to her stories takes one back to
another time along the celebrated Mother Road. I know I relived the grandeur of the old El
Garces listening to her words. I love this fine lady!
Route 66 is all about the people like Maggie.
|Route 66 Update: On September 28, 2004 Maggie McShan passed away. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her. She did more to promote Route 66, the El Garces Harvey House and the fascinating history of the Needles area than anyone else I know of. Her legacy will live on through all the people she touched along life's highway.|
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