MaggieMcShanMaggie McShan arrived in Needles in 1936 as a young bride from Arkansas and never looked back.  Her husband Mac worked for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad and was also a new arrival from her home state.  He had taken the Greyhound bus a few years earlier and had worked a series of odd jobs until he found steady work with the ATSF.  During the 1930s, Needles was a resting stop for many families heading to California.  The “Okies” as they were disparagingly called could swim in the Colorado River before they faced the next 130 miles through the Mojave desert where there were few rest stops and temperatures were extreme.  Out in the desert, there were people who prayed on broken down vehicles, stealing the few possessions these destitute people had left.   Despite the bleak times, Maggie fell in love with Needles from the moment she saw the beautiful Mexican Fan Palms in front of El Garces and enjoyed a meal there served by the Harvey Girls.  In later years, when Needles fell on hard times after El Garces closed and the ATSF moved its offices out of the building, Maggie became one of the city’s most prominent boosters.  She was the vice-president of the Friends of El Garces and worked tirelessly to preserve the former Fred Harvey Restaurant and Hotel.  She was also one of the founders of the Needles Regional Museum and an author and editor.

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Needles Regional Museum

El Garces, Needles, CA



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