Needles California Route 66 Borax Wagon Welcomes You

Needles California literally puts out the Welcome Wagon for visitors.  In this case a borax transporting wagon used in the 1880’s.   Borax was mined in Death Valley and was pulled in wagons to towns like Calico and Daggett with a twenty-mule team.   Those of us old enough may remember the catchy commercials on TV with the Detergent Borax using the term Twenty Mule Team Borax as a brand and jingle.  The twenty mule team was actually made up of two horses and 18 mules.  Wonder if the horses knew they were included in the mule name?   A horse is a horse after all.

Twenty Mule Team Borax still exists and is sold in many retail markets today.  The product was promoted first on a Radio Show introduced in the 1930’s Death Valley Days.  When Television came along the show Death Valley Days moved to TV and was aired from 1952 to 1975.  I can still see the commercials with the team transporting the wagons across the desert.  They tried to replace the mules with a steam engine train in 1894 but the train broke down and the mules had to tow the train.  How is that for poetic justice.

If you want to know more about Borax, what it will clean and how to safely use the product you can visit  

This welcoming wagon first sat in front of the now defunct El Rancho Motel and the words El Rancho Motel were above the name Needles.  It advertised the motel as being cooled by refrigeration ( a must in the desert heat) a swimming pool (the kids have to have that) and room phones (to call home)  what we looked for in the 40’s and 50’s from our abodes for the night.  Later in the 60’s and 70’s it was TV in the room was a big draw.  Today it is Wi-Fi, must have Wi Fi, refrigerators in the room are good, just a different kind of refrigeration and coffee makers, must have coffee makers.

The wagon is at the beginning of Route 66 on the east side of town.  The Palms Motel Sits right across the street.  This quaint little motel was still in use just a few years back.  It is unique in the fact that it has little cottages. There are not many of these Route 66 cottage motels left on the route.  The motel has been turned into long time rentals, but you can still see the charm in the buildings and front of the motel.  The Palms Motel was built in 1930 and has 16 units.   There are all currently rented. 

Welcome Wagon Baskets were the invention of an innovative marketing man Thomas Briggs who saw the wisdom in 1928 of connecting the businesses of the community with new arrivals.  I hope that the Borax Welcome Wagon at the beginning of Route 66 going west connects you to the many places  to eat and sleep and play along the Colorado River in Needles CA.   To learn more about Needles go to

To motor to the wagon take Broadway exit off of I-40 or if you are on I-95 from Topock it will turn into Broadway as you go west through town.  The wagon is at A Street and Broadway.  The street name will change to Route 66.

picture of El Rancho