The City of Needles is named after “The Needles” the sharp peaks in the Mohave Mountains east of town near Topock, Arizona.
Needles was the first city in California to welcome J. C. Penny’s in 1914. The museum and thrift store occupy the 1948 store that Penney’s built and sits on the U. S. Route 66 alignment that that was prior to 1930.
In 1883, Needles came into existence due to the efforts of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad, the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Santa Fe Railroad creating the 35th Parallel transcontinental railroad line.
The train depot across the street is one of many Harvey House Hotels along the Santa Fe Railroad. This Harvey House is named El Garces after the Spanish Missionary Francisco Garces who traveled through the area in 1770s. The El Garces Train Depot and Hotel was built in 1908 and used until approximately 1948.
The Native American tribe of the local area are the Mojave (Aha Macav, People of the River). The Mojave Indian tribe provides the region with a rich cultural history.
Sternwheeler ships navigated the Colorado River from Yuma upstream nearly as far as the mouth of the Virgin River from the mid 1800s to early 1900s. The coming of the railroad and the damming of the Colorado River signaled their demise.
The mining industry drew explorers and fortune seekers during the early years of California’s history. Few operating mines are left in the region.