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Fred Harvey & Tourism

Harvey Girls

Closely associated with the Santa Fe Railway in the southwest was the Fred Harvey Company. Although railroads used dining cars as early as 1853, many western railroads required passengers to take their meals at various station stops. English-born Fred Harvey became associated with the Santa Fe in 1876 when he opened a lunch counter at Topeka. The initial success of this business soon prompted Harvey to open a series of restaurants and hotels along the Santa Fe line, many of which were staffed with the famous "Harvey Girls." Fred Harvey establishments followed the Atlantic & Pacific across Arizona, and Harvey restaurants were opened at Holbrook, Winslow, Williams; Ash Fork, Seligman, and Kingman. All of the original dining rooms were of simple design, providing a place where travelers could purchase something to eat during a ten-to-thirty minute station stop. Several of the early Harvey diners in Arizona were hastily put into service. The restaurant which opened at Holbrook in 1884, for example, was at first housed in five boxcars. Despite a dingy outside appearance, the interior was attractively painted, the tables covered by linen, and set with silverware. The menu, typical of Harvey establishments, consisted of blue point oysters, whitefish in Madera sauce, capon with hollandaise sauce, roast beef, baked veal pie, several vegetables and salads, and pies, cakes, and coffee. A similar type of operation was said to have started at Williams in 1887.

El Garces Harvey House

As time went on, the Harvey Houses were improved, frequently being incorporated into the depot itself. Because of the reasonable prices, clean facilities, and cheerful service, Fred Harvey dining rooms became famous in the southwest. Prior to 1900, the Harvey Company concentrated exclusively on meeting the needs of travelers and railroad employees. After the turn of the century, however, the company turned to the construction of hotels and resort facilities, spurred on by the growing economic significance of tourism. In short order, a series of resort hotels, with names related to the Spanish and Indian heritage of the southwest, were constructed at strategic locations along the line. The La Posada appeared at Winslow, the Fray Marcos went up at Williams, the Escalante was built at Ash Fork, and the Havasu appeared at Seligman. Most of these structures incorporated a southwestern motif, yet they varied significantly from structure to structure. The Havasu in Seligman contained only 19 rooms, while the Fray Marcos at Williams was much larger. During the early years of the 20th century these hotels were utilized by visitors headed for the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, and the Indian Country. The Fred Harvey Company also dominated the touring business at such locations as Grand Canyon, where hotels such as El Tovar and Bright Angel Lodge were constructed. Although Mr. Harvey died in 1901, his family carried on the tradition. The 1902 formation of the Fred Harvey Indian Department strengthened links between train travel and tourism in Arizona by providing visitors with a variety of native arts and crafts. Between 1900 and 1930, Fred Harvey hospitality was a well-known attraction in the southwest.

Grand Canyon Village

A Context for Preserving Railroad Related Properties
Arizona State Parks

Casa Del Desierto

Harvey House Barstow

Garces Harvey House

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