Rail stations across the country hold a piece of our nation‘s history and though many have been neglected, we find inspirational examples of communities banding together to preserve their local station‘s historical significance. One such example is El Garces Station in Needles, Calf.
The station opened in 1908 and held the “crown jewel” of the Harvey House chain restaurants, the first national restaurant and hotel chain which was built along multiple railroad routes. The restaurant eventually closed in 1949 and the only remaining station occupants, the Santa Fe Railway offices, moved in 1988 forcing the station to close its doors. Completely abandoned, the station was the frequent target of vandals and was up for demolition when the Friends of the El Garces, Inc. organization was formed and successfully petitioned the city of Needles to purchase and renovate the station. The purchase was completed in 1999.
The historic building received earmarked funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition, the Friends of the El Garces have held fundraisers over the years to help raise a portion of the estimated $10 million necessary to restore the facility. Further renovations are in discussion, including refurbishing the building enough so that it can reopen as an upscale hotel and restaurant.