Fred Harvey: Introducing Cuisine and Comfort to the Wild West

By Candice Reich

The 19th century American West was known for shoot outs, outlaws, saloons, cowboys, and Indians.  What happened to the Wild West and how did it change?  A man by the name of Frederick Henry Harvey helped open and shape the West by serving excellent meals with the support of the railroad.

Harvey and his “Harvey Girls” brought Eastern culture and women to the newly unsettled West.  With the completion of the Santa Fe Railroad, which followed the original Santa Fe Trail, Harvey Houses lined the townless landscape and fed hungry passengers plentiful meals with precision and class.

In 1848, the United States had won the Mexican-American war, in which the United States had gained half a million square miles of land, consisting of what is now called the American Southwest and California.  The boundary lines of the U.S. at this point were very similar to today.

With the newly gained land came Indians ready to fight every step the white man took.  The Santa Fe Trail gained a reputation of murder, theft, and kidnapping from the 1840s to the 1860s.  To put an end to the Indian raids, the U.S. recruited its most prominent western pioneers to tame.  Many men like Kit Carlson and Richens “Uncle Dick” Wottoon volunteered as scouts and guides for the government.  Forts were established along with stage stations.  With the Santa Fe Trail now established and secured, the area was now ready to welcome Americans to tour the West with the latest new technology in transportation: the train.

Following the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, citizens from the north and south were ready to start new lives in the uncharted West.  A man named Cyrus K. Holiday noticed this migration trend and began building a railroad from Topeka, Kansas, to Santa Fe –  “…the railroad that was said to begin nowhere and go nowhere…” wrote  Lesley Poling-Kempes in The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened The West.

At this time in history, “nowhere” was exactly where Americans wanted to go. They were ready to leave their homes turned battle fields and embark on a new journey.  Along the length of the growing railroad to Santa Fe, Irish, German, and Swedish immigrants, veterans from the north and south, as well as young men and Midwesterners created the new railroad through Kansas.

By 1872, the Santa Fe railroad finally reached Colorado, but it was not going to stop there.  The Pacific Ocean was the goal and it was attained by 1883, in Needles, California.  However, Santa Fe was not the first railroad to connect the nation from ocean to ocean in 1869, a golden spoke was the finishing component to the first transcontinental railroad by the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad in Promontory Point, Utah.

The price of a train ticket did not include means for travelers on the Santa Fe railroad.  Fred Harvey was a determined man who would change not only a traveler’s culinary experience on the train, but also cater to a guest’s every need.

Frederick Henry Harvey landed in New York City in 1850.  At the age of 15, the boy from London started working for the Smith & McNeil Cafe as a dishwasher.  Harvey apprenticed in New York, absorbing all the information he could about the restaurant business.  He then left New York in 1856 to live in New Orleans where he found work in a couple of restaurants.  During his time in New Orleans, Harvey worked his way up to sous chef, learning culinary artistry in one of the most infamous cities known for its innovative cuisine.

Following his passion for food, Harvey’s dream was to open a restaurant and he did so in 1857 in St.Louis.   He also worked in a jewelry and clothing shop.  By 1859, Harvey married Barbara Sara Mattas, who he often called “Sally.”  The restaurant was a success until the Civil War began in 1861, and his partner in the cafe ran off with the savings to join the Confederate Army.  Harvey was left with no money and contracted typhoid soon after that. But setbacks did not stop Harvey from continuing his restaurant dream.

Still in St.Louis, Harvey found another job in the restaurant business as a pantryman in a cafe.  The Civil War ended and Harvey looked west to search for new opportunities.  Harvey found work as a mail clerk for the post office where he was one of two clerks which sorted mail aboard a traveling train with pickups and deliveries made by towns along the way.  This railway mail service was extremely successful using the Hannibal & St.Joseph Railroad and soon after, it merged with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.  In 1865, Harvey was promoted to be the general western freight agent and relocated to Leavenworth, Kansas.  In Leavenworth, Harvey and his wife raised a family and became permanent residence.  Leavenworth at the time was a bustling city where many prominent figures in history lived.

During Harvey’s days as a mail clerk he had opened two cafes with a partner, Jeff Rice, along the Kansas Pacific Railroad.  One cafe was located in Wallace, Kansas, and the other was in Hugo, Colorado, which Harvey could only manage from a distance and was not able to control the quality of standards that he believed in.

Rice disagreed with Harvey’s emphasis in service and quality of food; the partnership ended within one year.  Another one of Harvey’s many jobs was a part-time advertisement solicitor for The Leavenworth Conservative.  To top off the already busy work load Harvey was investing at the Burlington Railroad; he learned about transporting cattle from Texas to the east coast.  In 1867, he invested in a cattle ranch.  Harvey’s knowledge of the cattle business aided in his future in selecting prime cuts of beef for his soon-to-be restaurants.

Throughout Harvey’s career as a western agent, he experienced first hand the dismal conditions of food service along the railroad.  Eating houses were found every hundred miles along the tracks because trains stopped to replenish water supplies and crews, or to change engines.  At these stops the crew and passengers could eat and stay the night if necessary.

Conditions of these stops varied drastically.  The passengers’ stomachs were the last thoughts on the minds of railroad businessmen and the crew.  Tents or rickety structures were built by entrepreneurs in the scattered rail-towns that provided food for passengers.  Time allotted for these stops averaged 20 minutes which was just enough time to put the so-called food to their lips, but only if they actually received their food.  Meals served along the railroad were described as grayish mystery meats, unidentified fried objects and colorful words were invented to describe the food used such as; chow, slop, and grub.

Cuisine of the West was primitive and cooked by rugged pioneers and so was the food served to visitors.  Too often, conniving train workers and the restaurants worked together to swindle money from hungry passengers.  Money was collected in advance from the passengers for the future meal that would be served at the next stop.  When the passengers rushed to the restaurant or shack with elbows thrashing, the food was served and within minutes the train whistle would blow and travelers were forced to gulp their food or leave it behind in fear of being left behind.  As the trains were being loaded the food that had been served to the passengers was scraped back into the pots and served to the next unsuspecting travelers. The profit was then split by the train crews and restaurant owners.  Occasionally the train would not even stop for food and chug right by designated stops, leaving passengers with growling stomachs.

Harvey and other experienced travelers carried homemade meals.  A Kansas City Star agent recalls their experience while traveling:

…many years ago when you went for a trip on the railroad, somebody at home kindly put a fried chicken in a shoe box for you.  It was accompanied by a healthy piece of cheese and a varied assortment of hard boiled eggs and some cake.  When everybody in the car got out their lunch baskets with the paper covers and the red-bordered napkins, it was an interesting sight…the bouquet from those lunches hung around the car all day, and the flies wired ahead for their friends to meet them at the next station.  (Morris 6)

These pre-packed lunches often spoiled along the trip and filled the passenger cars with foul aromas.

Wealthy and foreign railway travelers were appalled by the Western food of America.  Since Harvey also suffered from the railroad’s negligence of hospitality, the business side of him could not help but capitalize on this situation.  Harvey envisioned enormous portions served with precision and class.  He pitched the idea of building restaurants along the railroad to the Burlington Railroad.  Burlington did not share his view on fine dining on the American frontier, in fact they laughed him out of the meeting.

He was then met with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad officials.  The Santa Fe was a rapidly growing company headed west with Thomas Nickerson as its president and Charles Morse as a superintendent.  Morse, too, had experienced the “grub” served along the rail lines and then proposed Harvey’s idea to Nickerson.  The west was crying out for decent food and Harvey was granted a cafe in Topeka, Kansas, in 1876.  No contract was written or signed, but with a gentleman’s agreement the Santa Fe Railroad would provide free transportation for food, ice, water, and employees as long as Harvey provided equipment and management for the cafe.  Any profit made by the cafe would be Harvey’s to keep.

In Topeka, the old, rundown depot with a 10-seat lunch counter was scrubbed down.  The floors were refurnished and new gas light fixtures were installed.  Fresh, Southwestern paint coated the walls; new Irish linen tablecloths graced the tables along with new silverware, and sparkling crystal.  Only the best produce and meat made its way through the kitchen back doors which was served by new staff.  Affordable priced menu were presented to guests with overwhelming portion sizes.  A breakfast at the cafe could include: steak and eggs, hash brown potatoes, and a stack of golden pancakes topped with fresh butter accompanied with maple syrup for $.35.

Kansas had never seen standards of this quality and many people doubted Harvey’s ability to maintain them.  The lunch room was popular not only with passengers and train crews but the citizens of Topeka frequently visited as well.  Among the first customers were a group of Indians who came for lunch.  They were welcomed in to a hot meal on a snowy day in November, bringing much attention as they ate.

Topeka’s lunchroom was such a success that the Santa Fe Railroad management was worried the city was becoming too “clogged up”:

For a few months it looked as though civilization was going to stop short in her onward march at the capital of Kansas, and that the westward course of empire…would end at the same spot.  Travelers positively declined to go further once they had eaten with Fred Harvey.  Traffic backed up, and it became necessary for the Santa Fe to open similar houses at other points along its right of way in order that the West might not be settled in just one spot.  (Poling 36)

Santa Fe insisted that Harvey open a new restaurant down the tracks.  Even though America was skeptical of the West and its lack of amenities, Fred Harvey wanted to bring the best service anyone could imagine to the West.

The new establishment was to be a restaurant and hotel located in Florence, Kansas, in 1878.  Santa Fe was not able to purchase the run-down hotel at the time, so a contract was made with Harvey that if he bought the hotel, Santa Fe would reimburse him later.  Mrs. Harvey traveled abroad to collect furnishings from Europe to decorate the newly refinished Clifton House.  The new Harvey House System General Manager was Bill Phillips, the former head chef for the Palmer House in Chicago, Illinois.  Phillips was considered the richest man in Florence at the time; he made $5,000 a year. (Photo courtesy of the Harvey House Museum in Florence, Kansas.)

The Clifton House gained a reputation and travelers soon scheduled their trips to stop at the restaurant at meal time.  The city of Florence was populated by many Harvey employees and the town grew rapidly.  When Harvey decided to build on to the Clifton House, it became the largest building in Central Kansas in 1879.  After the new addition, the Clifton House was then 30 by 300 feet.  The same year, approximately 2,300 guests stayed at the Clifton House within a six month period.

One way Harvey brought class and civility to the West was by hosting social events.  At the Calico Ball was held at the Clifton House, men sported suits and women wore calico dresses.  In attendance was the Peabody Orchestra and the dining tables were filled with delicious and indescribable foods.  An additional luxury the Clifton House offered was opening its doors to allow the citizens of Florence bathe in its facilities.  An advertisement in the paper read: “Every Tuesday and Friday the ladies of Florence may have the use of the bathrooms at the Clifton Hotel…this will be a luxury which will be duly appreciated.”  All other days the bathroom was open to men.  The bathroom consisted of a rainwater bath for $.25. Throughout the years the Clifton House was open, many world-famous people were known to say there.  With the achievements of the Florence and Topeka businesses, more restaurants and hotels were built all along the Santa Fe Railroad.

To enable and enforce a respectable establishment Harvey implemented many rules into his restaurants.  On the lunch counters a basket was placed to hold firearms while men ate.  A sign was placed above this basket reading: “Gentlemen are requested to wear coats.”   If a man did not have one, the restaurant provided an alpaca coat.  This “coat rule” came about because of cowboys and working men entering the dining room with dusty, ripped, and odorous clothing.  One man in particular decided to challenge this coat rule and sued Fred Harvey; however, Oklahoma’s Supreme Court sided in the favor of Fred Harvey.

The words “please” and “thank you” were insisted in every institution and helped establish manners in the West.  In Harvey’s dining rooms only fine china was used to serve guests and later in 1888, Harvey’s own line of china used in his dining cars.  Also created by Harvey, and still used today in dining cars, was the oversized napkin which was made for gentlemen who tucked them into their overcoats.  Good taste and manners were traveling west and citizens of the West started to demand these things as well.   Fred Harvey insisted on these standards and they followed his lead.

To ensure every aspect of service was adhered to at his establishments, Harvey made unannounced visits to check on his managers and staff.  The instant Harvey entered the building uniforms, he inspected fingernails, dishes, place settings, food lockers, nooks, crannies, door lintels, and picture frames.  If a chipped piece of china was found on a table, he shattered it on the floor. He was known to throw entire table settings on the floor.

The Harvey manner was as follows: plates an equal distance from the table’s edge, the heavy silverware placed just so, water glasses exactly the same distance from the knives, and the napkins folded precisely.  Any failure to meet the specified standards was then followed up with a 15-page report and sent to headquarters in within six months.  A staff member only had to witness one of Mr. Harvey’s outbreaks to make sure things in perfect order at all times.

Fred Harvey’s desire was always to place the comfort and pleasure of his patrons first.  One day a guest complained to Mr. Harvey that a certain manager had not dealt with him fairly.  Of course, Mr. Harvey called the manager’s attention to the matter.  The manager replied that the guest was a regular crank.  Whereupon the manager was informed that he was hired to please just that kind of people. (Poling 39)

Harvey’s outrages became so well known that train personnel would wire ahead to restaurants to warn them of an inspection.  The messages would sometimes read: “Big cheese to be delivered to Topeka during the dinner hour,” or “Big wind blowing into Albuquerque after breakfast,” and even, “Winslow, Arizona, expect large sack of potatoes with lunch crowd.” Harvey may have been a strict man but he was known by his employees to be fair, his intense watch on the business ensured satisfied customers (Morris).

During the first years in business Harvey Houses were mostly staffed by men.  These men were not reliable; they often did not show up for work, drank on the job or woke up after a long night of drinking and starting fights with customers.  The habits of cursing and getting drunk were expected of men in the West and Harvey began to search for an answer to find decent help.  While visiting Raton, New Mexico, he witnessed drunken and bruised waiters who had been in a knife fight the night before.  The manager and waiters were fired and a new manager, Tom Gable, was to be hired under one condition — the waiters must be women.  Tom Gable was quoted, “Women didn’t get drunk and have knife fights like men did.”

There was no room in these fine establishments for rowdy, filthy, and drunk men running around causing fights.  In 1883, Harvey decided to hire women in the hopes of turning around his wait staff.  Women were scarce in the West and if there were women living there, they were not the type Harvey wanted working in his restaurants.

He advertised in Eastern and Midwestern newspapers: “WANTED: Young women, 18 to 30 years of age, of good character, attractive and intelligent.” Women applied, many looking for adventure, money or a husband. The women went through a strict screening process and the ones who passed often were sent to train in the Kansas businesses, especially Topeka.  A woman would start in the lunchrooms and work her way to the dining room.

Many Harvey Houses gave the waitresses badges with numbers which ranked their work ethic.  High numbers were given to new employees and points were then subtracted for having a neat uniform, extra helpfulness, and pleasant behavior.  The highest position in a Harvey House, except for manager, was “wagon boss” or head waitress.  The women wore special uniforms and given respectable lodging. They were  called Harvey Girls, not waitresses.  During a time when the job of a waitress was looked down upon, working in a Harvey House took skill and leadership.  Harvey Girl uniforms were simple, clean, and efficient.  Each woman was to look the same, wearing a black and white skirt, bib, apron, collared shirt, black shoes, black stockings, and a hair net; the combination closely resembled a nun.  The uniforms were not washed by the women but sent to Newton, Kansas, or Needles, California, to be laundered.  A spill of any size even if it was not apparent warranted a Harvey Girl to change her uniform.  Their hair was pulled up and no make-up was allowed. Managers would occasionally take a damp cloth and run it over the womens’ faces to make sure they wore no makeup. Harvey wanted to ensure these single women in the West were not targets of public criticism.

Similar to the men who moved to work with the railroad, Harvey Girls wanted a chance to show they too could have an impact in society.  When a woman agreed to work for Fred Harvey she was guaranteed a place to stay, safety, a secure job, and a support system.  Dormitories were provided for the women with two to a room and were watched over by a house mother.  A curfew of ten o’clock was set for weekdays and midnight on Saturdays.  One’s curfew could be extended with special permission for special occasions, such as dances.  However, the door was always locked precisely at curfew and anyone who was late was reported in a tardy book.  Curfew could only be missed three times; any more could be grounds to be fired.

Every woman signed a contract stating that she would not get married for at least a year, and after that year she was welcome to stay at the same location, request another location, or leave.  If a woman was to get engaged or marry she would have to forfeit her wages because she had violated the contract.  Harvey Girls demanded to be treated with respect and this kind of attitude was essential if a woman wanted to prosper in the West.

Harvey’s system was similar to one formulated in the city of Lowell, Massachusetts, in the 1820s and 1830s.  Single females were recruited in New England to work in textile factories as millhands.  Francis Cabot Lowell specifically designed a boarding house system for single females who worked in the factories.  Similar to the Harvey Houses, curfews, dress codes, house mothers, and structured work aided in the efficiency of the mills.

While away from home these women found their independence as well as husbands.  Dating was permitted of the Harvey Girls and many of the dormitories had a courting parlor in which couples could visit.  Other than the courting parlor no men were allowed in the dormitories.

Since meals and lodging were furnished, the women’s wages often went to their families first and then the finer things in life, such as dresses.  Especially since they wore conservative uniforms all day, the women wanted to show off the latest fashion when they could.  Townswomen were envious of the Harvey Girls’ fashion and increased the demand for fashion in the West.

Usually when Harvey Houses were built in a small community, they became the social center of the town.  The Harvey Girls knew everyone’s name in town and were invited to social events, church, and women’s clubs.  They became some of the community’s most prominent social butterflies.  These charming women were so popular with men, one even wrote a poem about them:

Harvey Houses, don’t you savvy;

Clean across the old Mojave

On the Santa Fe they’ve strung ‘em

Like a string of Indian beads.

We all couldn’t eat without ‘em

But the slickest thing about ‘em,

Is the Harvey skirts that hustle up the feeds.

I have seen some splendid paintings in my day,

And I have looked at faultless statuary;

I have seen the orchard trees a-bloom in May;

And watched their colors in the shadows vary;

I have viewed the noblest shrines in Italy,

And gazed upon the richest mosques of Turkey-

But the fairest of all sights, it seems to me,

Was the Harvey girl I saw in Albuquerque.

(Morris 66)

Countless men and train workers fell in love at the sight of these Harvey Girls because women were a rare sight west of the Mississippi River.  The Harvey Girls that married did so to men of high standing positions in the community, making the couples some of the West’s “aristocracy.” The women enhanced the towns and lives of the West by organizing civic activities for improved safety and quality of life.

A total of 100,000 women worked for Harvey and 20,000 of these married regular customers.  An estimated 4,000 baby boys were born of Harvey Girls and were named either Fred or Harvey.  To say the least, thousands of families were impacted by Fred Harvey’s success in the Southwest.

As rumor of superior food and lodging for travelers spread in America, Harvey Houses were being built all over the Southwest.  The smoothly run Harvey Houses were a success because of their efficiency.  Every establishment was run the exact same way to ensure quality control at each stop.

During a traveler’s time spent on the train, a trainman would ask each customer if he or she was interested in eating in the dining room or at the lunch at the next stop.  As for the evening meal, passengers received menus to select their desired meal.  The orders were wired ahead to the Harvey House.  The Harvey Houses also had a device attached to the rails in which a wire was tripped by the oncoming train and a bell rang inside the restaurant for further warning.  When the train arrived the Harvey House manager greeted the passengers as they filed into the restaurant and a gong was sounded signaling the wait staff.  As the passengers sat down to eat, their first course was being served.  The drink orders were then taken, offering coffee, iced tea and milk.  The Harvey Girl would place the guest’s cup in a certain manner to indicate their order; a cup placed right side up on its saucer indicated hot tea, a cup upside down and tilted against the saucer meant iced tea, a cup upside down and the handle away from the diner meant milk, a cup on the right hand of the saucer meant coffee.  This was referred to as the “cup code” and it usually worked unless the customer moved the cup.

The ladies offered second helpings to all that desired them and as well as pies cut into four pieces instead of the regular six. It has been reported that the reason for the large portions was that if there was a delay of the train, passengers would not be left with empty stomachs.  However, Harvey believed in satisfying each customer no matter how big his appetite.  Each stop lasted for 20 minutes and that was enough time for every passenger to fill up their stomachs and board the train again.  Passengers left the dining rooms with the experience of dining leisurely even though it took less than a half an hour to dine.

Menus were sent out from headquarters in four-day cycles.  Kansas City was the food supply base for all Harvey Houses, and Harvey’s food system was so methodical that the food supply manager knew how many pieces of toast were eaten on any given day in any Harvey House.  The explanation behind this was that every manager of a Harvey House or Hotel would send a report to headquarters at the close of every day.  The purpose for this strict inventory was to help headquarters obtain supplies and watch over quality control.  Train crews would wire ahead approximately how many passengers would be eating at the restaurant that day.  Even if the trainmen forgot to wire ahead the managers had a good idea of how many meals would be served.  Their records showed that 90 percent of all passengers would eat breakfast, 40 percent would eat lunch, and 60 percent would eat dinner.  This data is an example of forecast records, which are used frequently in businesses today.  Managers were also responsible for reporting local produce and meat prices offered in the area.

The system ensured every Harvey House had the freshest ingredients and the best quality available.  Supplies being shipped to Harvey Houses were transported in refrigerated cars, a new technology introduced for food and trains.  Menus in the American West began to include fresh whitefish on ice from the Great Lakes, sage-fed Mexican quail, antelope steaks, the best prime beef and chops, fresh blue neck oysters, lobsters, and also ice.  These luxuries had never been seen anywhere near the West and most people who lived in the West had never eaten many of these delights.  Harvey exceeded everyone’s expectations when he was serving the freshest meals in the middle of nowhere for a low price, thanks to the use of the railroad.

Harvey’s competition along the railroad was being put out of business because they could not keep up with such high standards.  Of course other businesses could not compete because Harvey did not make a profit; he was losing money each day.  On one account Harvey fired a manager for slicing the meat thinner than usual to reduce food cost.  Many Harvey Houses were set fire to by livid café owners who could not compete with the Harvey House.  These café owners rallied together and told customers and citizens not to eat at the Harvey House.  However, Santa Fe had no intention of putting these independent cafés out of business, they were strictly built to serve travelers; but anyone was welcome at a Harvey House.

At  many Harvey Houses the water supply was heavy with alkaline which affected the taste of the coffee and coated the pots and pans with white residue causing the washing of dishes a very difficult task.  To prevent the white residue, machines were scrubbed down after each use.  With the resource of the railroad, spring water was shipped in stainless steel or glass-lined tank cars from California or supplied from snow runoff near Flagstaff.  When Harvey could not find the quality of food he desired, he bought farms to sustain his standards of food.  Farms were located in Del Rio, Arizona and Temple, Texas; along with his very own dairy farm in Peach Springs, Arizona to provide fresh milk and butter for his customers.

In 1895 Edward Payson Ripley became president of the Santa Fe Railroad.  His duty was to renew Santa Fe and update its accommodations.  At this time a campaign across America began telling people to “See the Grand Canyon” and embark on a pioneer adventure to explore Indian detours.

With these new and interesting tourist attractions the Santa Fe asked Harvey to begin building a chain of resorts.  The resorts were styled after influences of the indigenous Spanish colonial-Pueblo, Hopi, and Navajo architecture.  The structures were made to blend in with the earth by using roof beams, inset porches, fire-wall apertures, and flanking buttresses.  Architecture made in this way was then known as Santa Fe Style.  Indian art was displayed throughout the resorts and hotels along the railroad with the help of Mary Elizabeth Colter. Colter was a prominent interior designer for Harvey’s chain of resorts at this time because of her time spent in the Indian Southwest.  She was the chief architect and interior designer for Fred Harvey from 1902 to 1948.

Native Americans were a significant part of the Southwest, Harvey exposed their arts, crafts and culture to tourists. Merchandising these crafts such as beads, silver rings, bracelets, belts, blankets, and pottery were just a few items sold in depots.  The depots were such a sensation there was not enough supply to fulfill the demand.  Hundreds of Native Americans were hired to provide their talents in depots stores.  Soon many travelers started requesting to visit the areas in which Indians lived as well as the Grand Canyon and other scenes of the Southwest; thus adding to the campaign of Santa Fe.  Harvey supported the Native Americans as well as opened American’s eyes to the rich Native American culture that was before forgotten.

Another contribution Fred Harvey made to the growing American West was reading material.  News butchers were pushed down passenger cars with a variety of literature to read: books, newspapers as well as candy and cigars.  Among the new changes in the Southwest, Ripley improved the contents which were sold on these news stands.  Items included were fresh candy, tobacco, quality magazines, as well as popular and classic literature for all tastes.  Better reading material was introduced to the culture by upgrading the newsstands.

On February 4, 1901, Fred Harvey passed away from stomach cancer and his sons took over the family business.  As technology advanced, the railroads became less and less popular with the creation of automobiles and planes.  In 1903, the first transcontinental automobile crossing was made.  By the end of World War II Harvey Houses began closing because dining cars aboard trains became the primary meals of passengers.  Trains no longer needed to stop as frequently as before and Harvey Girls were a thing of the past.  Through Harvey Houses poor, lower-class women became successful working women and helped populate the West.  The Harvey System ended the occurrence of Wild West shootouts and in its place was fine dining and men placing pistols in baskets.  Fred Harvey left a legacy for up and coming restaurants and businesses to follow.  “…Harvey imposed a rule of culinary benevolence over a region larger than any Roman province and richer than any single British dominion save Indian” (Poling).  Fred Harvey, Harvey Houses, and Harvey Girls will always be remembered for taming the Wild West with culinary delights and hospitality.

Works Cited

Duke, Donald. The Fred Harvey System: Civilizer of the America Southwest. California Territorial Quarterly. 61. (2005): 4-14.

Foster, George H., and Weiglin, Peter C. The Harvey House Cookbook. Atlanta, Georgia: Longstreet Press. 1992.

“Harvey House History”. City of Florence, Kansas. 2007. 27 Nov. 2007. <>

Morris, Juddi. The Harvey Girls: The Women Who Civilized the West. New York: Walker and Company. 1994.

Poling-Kempes, Lesley. The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened The West. New York: Marlowe & Company. 1991.

Weigle, Marta, and Babcock, Barbara A. The Great Southwest of the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railway. Phoenix, Arizona: The Heard Museum. 1996.

Miss Reich wrote this research paper about Fred Harvey for a course called  Development of American Cuisine at Kansas State University in 2008.