Needles, the, England: see Wight, Isle of.
Needles (Mojave ʼAha Kuloh) is a city located on the western banks of the Colorado River in San Bernardino County, California. It is located in Mojave Valley, which straddles the California-Arizona border. The city is accessible via Interstate 40 and U.S. Route 95. The population was 4,830 at the 2000 census, and was estimated at 5,700 by mid-2008. Needles was named after "The Needles," a group of pointed rocks on the Arizona side of the river. There is a relatively large Mohave community, although they are not the majority.


"Ancient petroglyphs, pictographs, intaglios, old trails and stone work sites bear witness to those who came from an earlier time." (Needles Chamber of Commerce)

Mohave people had been living in the area for hundreds, if not thousands, of years prior to the European exploration of the area. In 1859, Fort Mojave was built to protect immigrants to California and other travelers from the Mohave.

The city was founded in 1883 as a result of the construction of the railroad, which crosses the Colorado at this point. The name is derived from pointed mountain peaks at the south end of the valley.

In 2008, claiming the county had been unwilling to help keep the city's troubled hospital open as a full-service medical facility, considered seceding from California and becoming part of neighboring Nevada, only a few miles away. The options of attaching itself to the state of Arizona or even forming a new county were also considered.

Historic U.S. Route 66 passes through the city, lined with motels and other shops from that era. Needles is a tourism and recreation center, a tradition going back for decades.


Needles, like Death Valley, is known for extreme heat during the summers. Temperatures in Needles routinely reach 120°F (49 °C) in late July and early August. The Needles weather station is frequently reported by the United State government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as the site of the highest daily temperature recorded in the U.S. during the hot desert summers. Needles occasionally sets national or world daily high temperature records.

On July 17, 2005, the high temperature at Needles was 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51.6 degrees Celsius), the hottest temperature ever recorded in Needles since record keeping began in 1940, breaking the previous all-time record high of 123 degrees four days earlier (which prior to that, broke the all-time high of 122 which was set on July 2, 1967).

On July 22, 2006, about one year later, the low temperature in Needles had experienced a record high low temperature, with a temperature recorded to be 98 degrees at 5 AM with a high temperature exceeding 120 degrees.

The city is also known for moderate to locally severe thunderstorms during the monsoon season as well as humid conditions.

Needles is served by the National Weather Service's NOAA Weather Radio operating on 162.50 MHz from the Las Vegas National Weather Service.


As of the census of 2000, there were 4,830 people, 1,940 households, and 1,268 families residing in the city. The estimated population in July 2006: 5,330 (+10.4% change). The population density was 162.3/mi² (62.6/km²). There were 2,551 housing units at an average density of 85.7/mi² (33.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.87% White, 1.61% African American, 7.00% Native American, 1.43% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 6.38% from other races, and 5.59% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 18.36% of the population.

There were 1,940 households out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.5% were married couples living together, 16.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.6% were non-families. 29.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.6% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 23.6% from 25 to 44, 25.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 96.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,108, and the median income for a family was $33,264. Males had a median income of $39,688 versus $19,483 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,156. About 21.2% of families and 26.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 38.2% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.

Major employment in the city is supported by the BNSF Railway (formerly the Santa Fe Railroad). The depot has been a terminal (crew change point) for the railway since the late 1800s. The railroad company has been the city's main employment source for over a century.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 30.2 mi² (78.2 km²). 29.8 mi² (77.2 km²) of it is land and 0.4 mi² (1.1 km²) of it (1.36%) is water.

The once smaller nearby communities of Bullhead City, Arizona,Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and Laughlin, Nevada have in recent years become larger communities than Needles.


In the state legislature Needles is located in the 18th Senate District, represented by Republican Roy Ashburn, and in the 34th Assembly District, represented by Republican Bill Maze. Federally, Needles is located in California's 41st congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +9 and is represented by Republican Jerry Lewis.

In 2008, the city put forward a proposal to be annexed to Nevada or exempt itself from San Bernadino and create its own county due to a conflict over funding a public hospital. The proposal needs approval from the United States Congress, both states, and the populace of the town.

Rail transportation

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides daily service to Needles, operating its Southwest Chief between Chicago and Los Angeles.

Public services

Fire services

Needles is served under contract with the San Bernardino County Fire Department. Fire Station 31 serves as the administrative offices for fire protection to the City of Needles and houses three Type I Engine companies and one Water Tender. The station is staffed with one paid officer augmented by limited-term firefighters and paid-call firefighters living in the community.


Needles schools are part of the Needles Unified School District. The school district is one of the largest in the United States in terms of area with almost 6,000 square miles in its boundaries. The district runs from Amboy to Needles, and south to Parker Dam. It has 1,158 students enrolled. The local Needles schools include Katie Hohstadt Elementary School (Grades 1 – 2), Vista Colorado Elementary School (Grades K – 5), Needles Middle School (Grades 6 – 8), Needles High School (Grades 9 – 12), and the Educational Training Center (Grades 9 – 12).

Needles also has two private schools; the Needles Assembly of God Christian School and Needles Seventh-Day Adventist School.

Popular culture references


  • Movies/shows using locations in Needles:

* 1. The Amazing Race" (2001) TV Series 7.8/10 (1315 votes)
* ...aka "Amazing Race: All-Stars, The" (2001) (USA: eleventh season title)
* ...aka "Amazing Race: Family Edition, The" (2001) (USA: eighth season title)
* 2. U.S. Route 66" (1960): The Strengthening Angels TV Episode
* 3. Convoy (1978)
* 4. Criminal Xing (2007)
* 5.Domino (2005)
* 6. Evicted (2000)
* 7. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
* 8. Into the Wild (2007)
* 9. Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)


Print media

  • In the comic strip Peanuts, created by Charles Schulz who lived in Needles, California as a boy, often cartooned Snoopy's brother Spike living in the desert outside Needles. He frequently heads to Needles to partake of the town's nightlife, often running afoul of the local coyotes. Charles Schultz attended D Street School in Needles as a child, in a previous building on the same site as the current building at the top of D Street hill. This school, renamed Katie Hohstadt Elementary after a popular primary teacher of the 1970s and 1980s (grades 1 and 2 only now), is located at 600 Cibola Street.


  • In 2004, John Lowery (John 5), former guitarist for Marilyn Manson, released his CD 'Vertigo', in which the first track is entitled 'Needles, California'.
  • The town is mentioned in the lyrics of Hoyt Axton's "Never Been To Spain"; the song was a hit for Three Dog Night in 1972.
  • Quoted in Three Dog Night's "Never Been to Spain." Also performed by Elvis –

Well I never been to England, but I kinda like the Beatles. Well, I headed out for Las Vegas, only made it out to Needles. Can you feel it? Must be real. It feels so good!


  • In October 2006, two students and two teachers from Needles High School were invited to Washington DC to meet with the Under Secretary of Defense, in which they spoke of the new program at Needles High School called MOCK National Security Workshop. The students were also interviewed for the nation-wide, fifteen minute television news show, Channel One News, where the episode was aired on October 25.

Other popular culture connections

  • April 11, 1992: the 38-year old comedian Sam Kinison was killed in a head-on car crash in Needles, California. His newlywed wife was also critically injured.
  • In late 2000 to early 2001, skateboard legend Tony Hawk donated $10,000 to the Needles Skate Park, which is still in use today. Hawk was present for the grand opening of the park in January 2004.
  • Needles (and the surrounding area) was the scene for the hit 1986 post-apocalyptic computer RPG Wasteland.

Notable natives and residents


External links

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