Fred Harvey and the Santa Fe

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Who was Fred Harvey, and why was he important to the Grand Canyon?

Fred Harvey and the Santa Fe

If the Grand Canyon train service owes its development to the Santa Fe Railway, it also owes plenty to Fred Harvey. Harvey was an Englishman who came to the U.S. in 1850. From humble beginnings, he rose to create America's first hotel chain – the Harvey Houses that served passengers on Santa Fe Railway trains.

Harvey's first Harvey House was located in Topeka, Kansas. It opened in 1876, and offered travelers a place to rest for a few minutes while they enjoyed a decent meal (something non-existent on most other train lines of the time).

The meals were served by scrupulously groomed and gowned "Harvey Girls," who were often the first women western men had seen in months or years. In fact, Harvey became known unofficially as the "civilizer" of the west because so many Harvey Girls married and began families after they completed their contracts with Harvey.

The Harvey Houses spread out all over the west, and some turned into hotels and eateries, while others simply remained stopovers for hungry train passengers. The Fred Harvey Company was the first concessionaire at the Grand Canyon. The company was bought out in 1968, but continued to operate as The Fred Harvey Company through the 1970s, and beyond.



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