Route 66 News

El Garces reopens Saturday

The City of Needles, California, has planned an 11 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday for the remodeling and reopening of the long-closed El Garces intermodal transportation facility, reported the Mohave Valley Daily News.

In addition to public speakers, the event at the former Harvey House will feature:

  • A farmers market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • An antique car cruise.
  • A Taste of Needles, which includes breakfast and lunch by the Elks Lodge and fry bread from the Mohave tribe.
  • The tribe will sell jewelry and make a special historic presentation.
  • An open house from 9 a.m. to noon by the Needles Chamber of Commerce.
  • Friends of the Needles Centennial will serve refreshments from the Needles High School culinary arts class.

In addition to its use as a railroad depot, Needles plans to open the facility for small-business tenants.

Renovations took $5 million from the Federal Transit Administration. The city had hoped the FTA would allow an ownership transfer to La Posada owner Allan Affeldt so he could convert El Garces into a hotel. However, FTA disallowed the transfer, and Affeldt walked away from the project so the city could use the funds, despite his spending considerable amounts of money. The city has used the federal funds to renovate and enclose the building with windows and doors, plus adding plumbing and electrical lines.

Affeldt has moved on to other things, including buying the Castaneda Hotel in Las Vegas, N.M., and possibly buying the historic Plaza Hotel there as well.

El Garces opened in 1908, halted operations as a Harvey House in 1949, and entirely in 1988. Friends of El Garces persuaded the city to buy the property in 1999, and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. El Garces sits next to an older downtown alignment of Route 66.

UPDATE 5/5/2014: The Mohave Valley Daily News filed this report about the reopening of El Garces. I sounds like folks were really excited about it.

(Image of El Garces shortly after it opened in 1908, via City of Needles)



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