|Old Harvey House, Needles, CA|
Fred Harvey turned out to be the right man at the right time. Harvey had a background in the restaurant business going back to the time he emigrated from Scotland. Eventually he found a position as a railroad freight agent which required him to travel extensively. He knew as well as anybody the difficulty of finding decent restaurants along the rail routes. Fred Harvey had an idea.
|Frederick Henry Harvey|
Harvey lunchrooms eventually could be found Kansas to California, all along the AT&SF route. By the late 1880's, there was a Harvey dining location every one hundred miles along the Santa Fe line. Harvey's food quality was aided in part by the AT&SF refrigerated cars which transported the freshest food available in all the southwest.
The AT$SF pressed Harvey into operating their new dining cars. Although he was reluctant to try to prepare quality meals on a rolling train, he did agree to and this added another positive marketing point for the AT&SF.
|El Tovar, early 1900's|
The former Harvey House in Waynoka Oklahoma makes an excellent side trip. The building now houses the Waynoka History Museum on the second floor and a restaurant and gift shop on the ground floor. What's very interesting is that Waynoka and this Harvey House was part of the transcontinental airplane/train system. Started in 1929, this arrangement allowed a traveler to go between New York City and Los Angeles in 48 hours. An unheard travel time in that year. A passenger traveling westbound would take a Pennsylvania Railroad train from New York to Columbus Ohio. Then he/she would take a Ford Tri-Motor airplane from Columbus to Waynoka Oklahoma. After spending the night at the Harvey House in Waynoka the traveler would board an AT&SF train to Clovis New Mexico. From Clovis the passenger would fly to Los Angeles.
|La Fonda Hotel, 2011|
The "Harvey Girls" of course was synonymous with Harvey's operations. In 1883, Harvey decided to advertise in midwest and eastern papers for smart attractive and well mannered young women who would essentially be waitresses at his Harvey Houses. His motivation for this had to do with the type of clientele often seen in western restaurants and hotels in the late 1800's. That is very unsophisticated and rather rowdy individuals. The thought was that his "Harvey Girls" would lend a degree of civilized sophistication to the premises. The pay offered was really excellent for the era. It was $17.50 a month, plus tips. The women who were hired were transported west free of charge and given room and board. The Harvey Girls were nothing short of a spectacular success and are well remembered over a century later. The Harvey Girl was characterized by her starched, black-and-white uniforms, were overseen by a house mother and were on duty six or seven days a week. Below is a display of a Harvey uniform courtesy of Jot Powers. The Harvey Girls popularity was such that there was a 1946 musical filmed by MGM regarding the Harvey Girls starring Judy Garland. The Harvey Girls movie won an Academy Award for Best Song, "On the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe".