restricted access 3: The Promotion of Santa Fe by the Harvey Company and the AT&SF into the 1930s
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Chapter Three THE PROMOTION OF SANTA FE BY THE HARVEY COMPANY AND THE AT&SF INTO THE 1930S Fred Harvey and the AT&SF: The Early Years Born in London in 1835 to a Scottish-English couple, Fredrick Henry Harvey became famous for his restaurants and hotels and as the most influential partner of the Santa Fe Railway in promoting the city of Santa Fe.1 At the age of fifteen, Harvey left England bound for New York with ten dollars in his pocket. He quickly found a job at a restaurant paying two dollars a week.2 Harvey saved his money and bought passage to New Orleans, where he landed another restaurant job. In 1855, with a few dollars saved, he headed to St. Louis, where he opened an eating establishment with a partner. In 1860, Harvey married Barbara Sara Mattas.3 The couple struggled through hard times, and the outbreak of the Civil War put Harvey and his business partner out of work. Harvey and his wife moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he worked in a mail car on the railroad. He became a western freight agent and worked part-time soliciting advertising for the Leavenworth newspaper. In this job, Harvey was subjected to eating at railroad lunch stands, which generally provided “railroad pie,” sandwiches, and coffee.4 There was little incentive to 33 offer better services at these stands. Many of the eateries served poorquality food, and they often presented an unsanitary environment. Harvey became determined to provide better food and a pleasant atmosphere; he found a partner in Jeff Rice and opened two eateries in the early 1870s, located in Hugo and Wallace, Kansas.5 The partnership dissolved shortly afterward, leaving Harvey in need of another partner. He approached Charles F. Morris, superintendent of the AT&SF, who approved of offering good food to passengers at stops along the tracks. In 1876, Harvey used the money he had gained from his dissolved partnership with Rice to purchase an old restaurant at the Topeka Depot, which he soon opened as his first Harvey House.6 The AT&SF provided Harvey with supplies and the patronage at the depot in Topeka, and under Harvey’s ownership and management the eatery became a success. With good food, fresh tablecloths and napkins, the restaurant quickly rose to a step above the standard eating establishments found along the rails, which generally served only chicken potpies and cold sandwiches. The AT&SF, pleased with his success, decided to support Harvey further and to help him expand his business. The railroad company leased Harvey an old hotel in the town of Florence, near Topeka, and the Harveys provided the linen, silverware, cooking equipment, and walnut furniture. Harvey hired a chef and paid top prices for quality foodstuff. Soon christened the Florence House, Harvey’s newest eatery became a popular stopover. The hotel, owned by the railroad, provided lodging and Harvey supplied the food service. During this time, Harvey maintained his position as a freight agent with the Burlington Railroad. He quit in 1882, when he received the concession from the AT&SF to operate all of the hotel and eating establishments on the AT&SF system. Known as “the Harvey Houses,” these establishments proved popular not only for travelers on the railroad, but also for locals who enjoyed a delicious meal at a reasonable price. Even after the death of Fred Harvey in 1901, his eating establishments and hotels continued to prosper. Harvey’s son, Ford, took over the hotel and restaurants until his death in 1928, when his younger brother, Byron, became president of the company.7 An important facet of Harvey’s notoriety came from the popularity of the famous Harvey Girls.8 These “young women of good character, 34 CHAPTER THREE attractive and intelligent, ages eighteen to thirty,” were under a company contract that stipulated, among other things, that they could not marry for one year.9 In most cases, the Harvey Girls who waited until their contract was over married well, and many married employees of the AT&SF. The Harvey Girls worked for $17.50 a month, plus tips, and the Harvey Company provided the girls with room and board.10 Many of the girls sent their money back home to help their farming parents.11 When a train arrived, the crisply attired Harvey Girls worked as long as it took to get the passengers fed. Each girl served eight to ten people for every train that rolled into the depot. For many of the girls, training took place at two of the busiest train...


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