If you’re in the hottest part of the country, you’re probably in Needles! Located along the Colorado River its the first town as you enter California.
Scenes around Needles:
by Maggie McShan
Needles boasts 10.8 continuous miles of historic Route 66 between the two most outlying off ramps of I-40, except for one brief interruption. The general flow of traffic seems to be from east to west, so exit I-40 just past the California Plant Inspection Station (Five Mile Rd). Drive 1.4 miles to 5 Mile Station where US Hwy 95 separates to head toward Blythe. Continue straight ahead, passing Needles Riverview Cemetery on the left, for 4.5 miles to pass under I-40. Now you are on Broadway, the main street of Needles. Down the hill and to the left, note the ruins of Carty’s Camp, an old cabin court, and nearby the “66 Motel”, still in operation but for regulars only. Continue a short distance to another cabin court, 1930s vintage, once widely known as palms motel, now restored to a bed and breakfast and renamed “Old Trails Inn.” Here’s where Broadway forks with old Front Street. Continuing on Broadway, note historic Women’s Clubhouse on the left, and the Needles borax wagon.
Go on through the main business section, cross Santa Fe Railroad via the overpass, see the historic motel section, then drive beneath I-40 at ‘Q’ street. A few more historic motels will be noted.
Continue on to pass over I-40 at the West Broadway off ramp. This is where freeway construction brought a brief interruption of about .3 miles of the old road. Curve on what is now Needles Highway to where the road forks. Left is Route 66. Right goes to Laughlin, Nevada. At right you will see the river resort areas. Ascend up onto the mesa, pass the KOA Kampground and soon you are at the I-40 entrance.
The freeway (Interstate 40, heading west) covers the route for about 8 miles, but the old road may be resumed again at the exit for Las Vegas/US Hwy 95.
You have traveled 10.8 miles on Broadway, the newer portion of Route 66. The older portion is along Front Street.
Enjoy by entering Front Street at the “Old Trails Inn.” This will lead you past the historic Needles Transfer, the Fire Department and many other historic buildings including “El Garces”, the Harvey House, built in 1906. Train buffs will enjoy this section as it parallels the railroad. It also will take you right by the Needles Regional Museum, located at 929 Front St. Continue around Santa Fe Park past the turn of the century residences on the left and railroad exhibit on the right, to the cul de sac where an early 1960s overpass directed 66 traffic onto Broadway. This section is a total of .9 miles.
Historians realize that the old road was on other streets at other times and research is still in progress. The street officially named “Route 66” extends from in front of the old bowling alley to the KTOX radio station and is .3 miles in length (located on the west side on Needles). Add the Broadway, Front Street and Route 66 logs together and you have 12 miles of the Mother Road that can be claimed.