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Foster and Peter C. It was impossible to find a decent meal on a rail trip west of the Mississippi before That was changed by the man who did a great deal to civilize the American West -- Fredrick Henry Harvey.
The Harvey House Cookbook on Apple Books
His Harvey Houses provided good food and charming service by Harvey Girls all cross the Santa Fe Railroad line until the advent of the dining car. Some eating houses were known to be quite good. Station eating houses, especially those along the western railroads, were glorified by travel journalists.
The eating house experience survived for nearly sixty years. A sample Fred Harvey dinner menu from included the following, all for the price of 75 cents! Eventually, as railroad technology improved and as mechanical and power advances enabled increased train speeds and longer operating distances, pressure on the railroads mounted to find some method for providing meals on the train itself. The successful evolution of dining cars gradually and, in some cases abruptly, caused the demise of the track side eating establishments.
And long before we had the feminist movement, Harvey was already hiring only women to serve at his Harvey House restaurants. And long before there were many women architects, Harvey hired Kansas Citian Mary Coulter to work with him.
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And just as Howard Johnson did, Harvey was the heart and soul of his company long after he died. In fact, the family and the business did not to make the public aware that Harvey had passed away until 10 years after his death.
To the traveling public, Harvey personally selected their steaks, sometimes even grew their vegetables. Harvey, born in England, lived in Leavenworth and made Kansas City the hub of his business.
After a few false starts with other railroads, Harvey struck a brilliant deal with the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe railroad to place eating halls in or near their train stations. The first one was in Florence, Kan. Soon there was a Fred Harvey restaurant every hundred miles or so along the railroads path to the Southwest. Part of the Harvey deal was that the railroad, with its refrigerated or ice cars, would give free transportation to the Harvey food.
Related The Harvey House Cookbook: Memories of Dining Along the Santa Fe Railroad
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