|In 1850 Englishman Fred Harvey immigrated to America at the age of 15. He worked in a variety of occupations as dishwasher, |
merchant, jeweler, postal clerk and agent for the Burlington Railroad. As an agent, he traveled extensively through Kansas and
Missouri. What passed for meals at stations disgusted him. Dirty dining halls served terrible food at exorbitant prices.
Fred Harvey knew that improvements were possible. He tried, unsuccessfully, to interest his employer, the Burlington, in
operating restaurants for them. But Burlington suggested he contact the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, the fastest growing
railroad in the West. In the spring of 1876, Fred Harvey took over the restaurant at the Santa Fe depot in Topeka. Customers
were amazed to find linen and silverware, excellent food and reasonable prices. In 1877 Harvey purchased the hotel in Peabody
realizing a dream of pampering travelers with fine food and accommodations. In 1881 Harvey replaced all-male staffs with his
famous "Harvey Girls." They were renowned for their good looks, fine manners and efficiency. Seven years after operating his
restaurant in Topeka, Harvey operated 17 restaurants along Santa Fe's main line. By 1901, when Harvey died, his empire included
45 restaurants and 20 dining cars in 12 states. Fred Harvey insisted on only the best food, facilities and service. It has been
said that Fred Harvey brought civilized food and manners to the Southwest. Mr. Harvey's sons Byron S. (named for FH's partner
and friend Byron Schermerhorn) and Ford took over the company in 1901, and operated it through the 1930's. When the last of
them died, the company left Harvey control, and the company continued to operate, until it was sold in 1968.