Page 6 - Galveston Railroad Museum - Winter News February 2024
P. 6

Crane 2023              Tender 2005                                  Tender 2023

                                                A BIT OF RAILROAD HISTORY
                                          by Don Harper, Editor and  Board Member

                                          FRED HARVEY AND HIS HARVEY HOUSES

                                                                    At its greatest expansion, there were 84 Harvey Houses
                                                                along the Santa Fe routes - the first chain restaurants.  The
                                                                railroads  brought  fresh  food  to  the  restaurants.    Patrons
                                                                were served on china plates and drank from crystal glasses,
                                                                on tables set with linen tablecloths and silverware.
                                                                    Another innovation was recruiting young, single women
                                                                from back east to serve as Harvey Girls - hostesses and
                                                                servers  -  in  his  restaurants.    They  were  on  a  one-year
                                                                probation, during which they had to meet his standards, one
                                                                of  which  was  prohibition  of  marriage.    They  received  a
                                                                salary and room and board, and vacation travel.  After a
                                                                year, they could stay or they could marry and many of them
                                                                married  local  men  and  helped  populate  the  territories
                                                                around  Santa  Fe  stations.    Around  5,000  women  moved
                                                                west to become Harvey Girls.
                             Fred Harvey                            Another  innovation  of  his  company  was  promoting
                                                                Native  American  art  and  crats.    As  tourists  began
            In 1835, in London, England, Fred Harvey was born to   purchasing Native goods, Harvey expanded local tourism
        mixed Scottish and England parents.  He immigrated to the   and took visitors to Native towns.
        U.S. in 1853, at age 17, from Liverpool, and found work in      Toward  the  end  of  his  life,  Harvey  established
        a restaurant in New York City.  He worked his way up from   restaurants for other railroads, and after that, began serving
        pot scrubber, to busboy, to waiter and finally to line cook.     meal on trains.
            He  moved  to  New  Orleans  around  1855,  then  to  St.      Fred died in 1901 of intestinal cancer in Leavenworth,
        Louis where he worked as a jeweler.  He married Barbara   KS.  His restaurant chain survived him by 67 years.  At the
        Mattas in 1956 and she bore him 6 children.             time of his death, there were 47 Harvey Houses, 15 hotels
            Despite a successful jewelry business, Harvey returned   and 30 Santa Fe dining cars operating under the aegis of
        to his food roots and started a café. Next he was hired by   the Fred Harvey Company.
        the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, which was taken over      His  sons  and  grandsons  continued  to  operate  the
        by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.  He did well,   business until 1965, when it was sold to the conglomerate
        was promoted and ultimately transferred to Leavenworth,   Amfac,  Inc.  in  1968.    The  demise  of  the  Harvey  House
        KS.  He lived in Leavenworth the remainder of his life.     empire is undoubtedly due to the rise of automobile travel
            While traveling on business for the railroad, he found   and the decline of rail travel.  But in its heyday it brought
        himself  unhappy  with  the  food  that  was  served  to  the   civilization to parts of the West that badly needed civilizing.
        traveling public.  He tried to interest the Burlington Route in      The  Galveston  Railroad  Museum  was  once  the
        developing restaurants along their routes.  The Burlington   headquarters  of  the  Santa  Fe  Railroad,  and  the  building
        wasn’t interested, but the Santa Fe was.  To its credit, the   once housed a Harvey House.  It was located to the left of
        Santa  Fe  didn’t  charge  him  to  rent  the  restaurants  he   the gift shop (as one faces the gift shop).  The space is now
        opened in their stations.  The public loved the concept and   devoted to displays, including a large collection of Santa Fe
        the railroad’s reputation grew.                         calendars
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