|Harvey House Bed and Breakfast, Slaton,TX|
The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad bought the land for it's depot in 1911. They named the town site for O.L. Slaton a local rancher and banker. The Santa Fe Railroad built a Harvey House and depot one year after the purchase. When you tour the old Slaton Harvey House you'll see pictures taken when the eatery was in operations. The restaurant served forty-two passengers at a time along a horse shoe shaped counter. The first floor of the building housed the kitchen, bakery, manager's office and gift shop. The rooms upstairs housed the Harvey Girl waitresses. There was also a small structure near the back of the Harvey House which at one time served as a butcher shop. The walls of the Slaton Harvey House are one foot thick concrete. The track side part of the structure is built with an arcade. The Harvey House in Slaton Texas was opened in 1912. Located at the time on the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad tracks, this Harvey House operated until 1942. The depot itself continued to operate until 1969. The company continued to use the structure as a freight handling facility until the 1980's.
|Harvey House portico|
After 1942 the building served as a passenger station until Amtrak was established and passenger service through Slaton ceased.
When many people remember the old Harvey Houses they might think of places like New Mexico, Arizona and California which were the sites of some of the busiest locations. Santa Fe New Mexico and the Grand Canyon being two of the more busy sites. The fact was however that Fred Harvey also established his lunchrooms and dining rooms in Texas, Oklahoma and Texas not to mention in big cities such as St. Louis and Chicago. By my count there were some twenty-six Harvey House dining rooms in the state of Texas.
Fred Harvey eateries also could be found on subsidiaries of the AT & SF Railroad. Many might also remember the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad dining cars of the late 1800's which were managed by the Fred Harvey Company. This was at a time when competition between railroads was high and any edge could mean the difference between success and failure. Fred Harvey was able to bring his quality service to AT & SF's rolling trains. Probably the most remembered of these was the "Super Chief " first class service between Chicago and Los Angeles. The beautifully decorated dining cars on the Super Chief featured fine china, silverware and tablecloths which ushered in luxurious and elegant long distance rail travel. This was in the era of the new Pullman cars which were very popular with rail travelers.
|Harvey Girl uniform|
As you might expect, many of the old Santa Fe depots and Harvey House eateries have disappeared over the years. Some have disappeared altogether. Some are now in private hands used for a variety of purposes and some have been turned into museums. There are some that also have been converted to BNSF offices and as is evidenced in Slaton Texas, some have been converted into B and B's and combination event centers and museums. Fortunately we'll have the surviving locations as a historic reminder and a great site for history minded tourists. The remaining old Fred Harvey sites also help to keep the memory of this man and his innovations alive for others to learn about.
|Second floor common area|
You may be interested in our article about the La Castenada Harvey House in Las Vegas New Mexico.
You may also be interested in the following two articles related to railroad travel in Texas. One is the story of the Texas Electric Railroad which operated both north and south out of Dallas in the early 1900's and also the historic Katy Railroad which gained some fame by colliding two trains together as a publicity stunt.
As an added fun stop in Slaton you may want to check out the Texas Air Museum which is located at the northeast corner of the Slaton Texas Municipal Airport. Exhibits include many flyable and static aircraft displays. They feature an excellent collection of historic aircraft. The museum is generally open on Saturdays but group tours can be arranged for other days of the week. For more information call 806-828-4664.
The Slaton Harvey House is located at 400 Railway Avenue which is at the end of Texas Street right at the rail tracks. For more information, their phone number is 806-828-5900.
(Photos are from author's private collection)
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