Needles, California Wants to be Nevadan

City fathers in Needles, Calif., are looking at leaving the Golden State for the Silver State or perhaps form its own county, so reports the Associated Press this morning. The city of nearly 6,000, ·situated on U.S. Hwy 40 is over 200 miles from it county seat in San Bernardino, has had strained relations with county supervisors since March.

This is not the first time a county or a group of counties has desired to exit the Golden State. In October 1941, Port Orford, Oregon ‘s mayor Gilbert Gable announced that the Oregon counties of Curry, Josephine, Jackson, and Klamath should join California counties of Del Norte, Siskiyou, and Modoc to form a new state.

The new state was proposed to draw attention to the condition of state roadways along the Oregon-California border. Many at the time were simply oiled dirt roads and became impassable in bad weather, nearly crippling the area’s economic development.

The proposal found sympathy throughout the region by citizens who perceived their state legislatures as being, “indifferent to their needs.” Siskiyou County especially embraced the cause as the county seat, Yreka became the provisional capital , wi th John C . Childs of Yreka inaugurated as the governor in November 1941.

It was at this same point that county representatives met and selected the name Jefferson for their state, in commemoration of Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s third president and author of the Declaration of Independence.

While Lassen and Shasta counties only thought about joining the secession movement, the counties of Curry, Siskiyou, Trinity, and Del Norte actually embraced the idea. And the largest gain of national recognition came on November 27 , 1941, when a group of men put up road blocks on U.S. Route 99 to stop passing motorists.

While brandishing weapons for affect , they handed out copies of a Proclamation of Independence.

The proclamation read in part, that the state of Jefferson was in “patriotic rebellion against the States of California and Oregon” and would continue to “secede every Thursday until further notice. ”

The secession movement came to an end on Dec. 2, 1941, with the sudden death of Mayor Gable. This was followed five days later with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Secessionists re-focused their efforts, this time on World War II.

However, the Jefferson movement remains alive and well in the northern and southern regions of California and Oregon. So the idea of secession is not that uncommon and the city of Needles may be following in a grand tradition.

Needles is claiming that San Bernardino County remains unwilling to help keep the city’s troubled hospital open as a full-service medical center. However county officials say it has offered i1.5 million to keep some services open but the city rejected the money.

The Needles City Council told staffers earlier this month to look at having the city become a part of Nevada, which borders the city, or staying in California and forming a county of its own. In either case the act of secession would need approval from Congress, both the states and a popular vote.

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Published by

Tom Darby

Former radio personality and newspaper reporter

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