2023 Trip Report - The El Garces
The El Garces
Photos and Trip Report by Mignon Slentz
There were ten of us gathered in the Needles Museum to begin our tour of the El Garces Train Station and the Harvey House located across the street in Needles. Mike Thornton was our guide with help from his wife Judy. He gives tours every Saturday at 10:00 a.m. There were large black and white photos of the Harvey Girls on the museum wall and photos of the restaurant interior with other personnel. We were led across the street to the El Garcés Train Station that was open in 1908 and built in the Neoclassical style. It was known as the “Jewel of the Desert.” It was a freight and passenger depot with hotel and restaurant amenities. It was a Harvey House and Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad station. Inside the large, spacious rooms you see the labor intensive mosaic ﬂoors made with very small tiles in alternating black and white larger squares.
We walked through the waiting rooms, restaurant areas and upstairs where the girls were housed and we strolled around the second story balcony where on hot summer nights some of them chose to sleep. The large ornate fountain in the front of the station which is actually facing the railroad tracks is not working but it is easy to imagine how it would have looked all those years ago. Unfortunately the passenger train comes by at around 11:00 p.m. every night and keeping a part of the building unlocked for the use of departing and arriving passengers has been an ongoing problem. This means the train station remains locked and passengers wait for the train down the track a bit. Mike is an outstanding tour guide so if you haven’t taken the tour try to make it sometime. ~ Mignon