Harvey Hotels & Restaurants on Route 66

Listed below are the locations along Route 66 that once were called home to the Harvey House Chain.

Arizona

Ashfork – Built in 1905, the Escalante Hotel replaced an 1895 vintage Harvey House Hotel and Restaurant. It closed in 1948. In the 1950s, the Santa Fe realigned the railroad through the area, and the city suffered a major economic setback – compounded when Route 66 was replaced by I-40, which bypassed Ashfork entirely. Today, there are no remains of the Escalante.

The Kingman depot was directly across from Harvey House Restaurant, Kathy Weiser-Alexander, April 2008.

Kingman – In 1901 a Harvey House Restaurant opened in Kingman. A one-story stucco depot still stands across from its location.

Peach Springs – This building that once housed a Harvey House Restaurant continues to stand but is utilized by the Water Treatment Plant.

Seligman – As railroad traffic increased in Seligman, Arizona the Havasu Fred Harvey House was built. Opening in 1905, the hotel included 60,000 square feet, housing numerous hotel rooms, a large kitchen, a lunchroom, and a newsstand. Abandoned by the railroad years ago, the building continued to stand for years but, by 2007 was in danger of being demolished. According to federal regulations, any occupied building must be a safe distance from active railroad tracks, which the building was not deemed to be, and the owner, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, made plans to demolish the building in 2008.

Though locals and Route 66 preservationists actively worked to save the building, the “Save the Seligman Harvey House” campaign lost the fight and the building was demolished in May 2008.

The Havasu Fred Harvey House in Seligman, Arizona.

The old Seligman depot, courtesy Don Gray, September 2007.

Williams Depot

Williams, AZ Depot. Photo by Dave Alexander.

Williams – The Frey Marcos Hotel was built in the early 20th century. The landmark still stands as a depot for the many passengers headed to the Grand Canyon. Inside, the old building also houses a museum.

Winslow – On May 15, 1930, the famous La Posada Harvey House Hotel opened its doors for business. The last one built in the famous Harvey hotel and restaurant chain, Winslow was chosen for the site, as it was the headquarters for the Santa Fe Railway. Designed by Mary Colter, the famed Grand Canyon architect, she paid careful detail to blend the aspects of both the Native American and Spanish cultures of the area into the hotel. In 1957, the beautiful La Posada Hotel was closed. Two years later, all of its museum-quality furnishings were auctioned off. In the early 1960s, much of the building was gutted and transformed into offices for the Santa Fe Railroad.

When the railroad announced plans to move out of Winslow for good in 1994, and the La Posada was scheduled for demolition, the town gathered up and went to work. Today, the La Posada has been fully restored and stands as an oasis in the desert, catering to a new generation of Route 66 adventurers. It is the only original Harvey Hotel on Route 66 that continues to operate as it was first intended. Another original Harvey House Hotel still in business, but not on the Mother Road, is the El Tovar Hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

The historic La Posada Harvey House Hotel was the last Harvey Hotel ever built, and today is the only one left standing that still serves as a hotel. Photo courtesy La Posada Hotel.

California

Bagdad – At the Bagdad Depot, there was once a small Harvey House lunchroom that was primarily utilized by Santa Fe employees.

Barstow – In 1911 the Fred Harvey Company opened up the Casa Del Desierto Harvey House. Hotel. After the hotel and restaurant were closed, the building was used mainly for a machine shop, with a cafeteria and a small Amtrak ticket office. Before long, the Casa Del Desierto was abandoned altogether. In the late ’80s, Santa Fe Railway decided to tear down the old Harvey House until an outcry was raised by local citizens and historians of Barstow. The old building was saved by the City of Barstow and restoration began.  The Casa Del Desierto was re-dedicated in 1999 and is now home to the Greyhound and Amtrak stations, several arts groups, the Mother Road Route 66 Museum, and now the Western America Railroad Museum.

The Casa Del Desierto Harvey Hotel in Barstow, California, Kathy Weiser.

The Casa Del Desierto Harvey Hotel in Barstow, California.

Los Angeles Union Station. Photo by Carol Highsmith.

Los Angeles – In 1893 Santa Fe’s Moorish-style La Grande Station opened, between 1st and 2nd streets on Santa Fe Avenue in Los Angeles, California. Six years later, the Harvey House Restaurant opened, serving up the railroad travelers in style. At that time, the railroad tracks ran right down Alameda, co-existing with trolleys and cars. After years of wrangling and numerous fatal accidents, it was finally decided that a new station needed to be built. Though the voters approved the new station in 1926, it would be more than ten years before it was finally built. With the cooperation of the region’s three principal railroads, the Union Pacific Railroad, the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, the new station opened on May 3, 1939, with some 500,000 people attending its grand opening. Constructed in Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne style, with Moorish architectural details, the interior walls were covered with marble and acoustical tiles and enclosed garden patios adorned either side of the waiting room. The new station also boasted a new and improved Havey House restaurant and adjoining bar.

The decade after the new station opened, it saw the heyday of the railroad era as thousands of people arrived in Los Angeles via the railroad. During World War II, the Harvey House Restaurant boasted it could feed 800 people an hour. However, as competition from cars and airlines increased, the railroad era was coming to an end. In 1967 the grand Harvey House restaurant closed and four years later, in 1971, Amtrak took over passenger operations.

Today, Los Angeles’ Union Station is home to the Metrolink that serves thousands of commuters daily. The at the Union Station is mainly used today for special events.

Attached to the main building to the south the old Harvey House Restaurant. The mostly empty room was the last of the Harvey House establishments designed by southwestern architect Mary Colter, as well as the last to be built. The room still boasts its rounded central counter, streamlined booths, and inlaid floor patterns and is today used primarily for special events and as an occasional filming location.

El Garces, Needles, California

El Garces, Needles, California. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Needles – When the original depot was destroyed by fire; it was replaced by the El Garces Harvey House and Train Depot which was completed in 1908. The building was named “El Garces” in honor of Father Francisco Garces, a missionary who visited the area in 1776.  The El Garces was considered one of the “Crown Jewels” of the entire chain and was remembered for the real linen and silver, distinctive china and fresh flowers provided for its guests daily. The lunchroom had two horseshoe-shaped counters and could serve many people. Community members also utilized the facilities for elegant private dinners, banquets, and special occasions. The El Garces closed as a Harvey House in the fall of 1949, at which time the building was partitioned and used as Santa Fe Railway offices.

In 1988, the Santa Fe Railroad moved their offices out of the El Garces to another facility and the building was closed. Sitting abandoned, the historic building was threatened with destruction until the Friends of El Garces was formed in 1993. Through their efforts, the City of Needles was petitioned to purchase the station, which occurred in 1999.

The restoration and reconstruction of the historic building began in March 2007. Plans were made to sell the facility to a buyer who planned to open an upscale hotel and restaurant. However, those plans fell through when the Federal Transit Administration determined that because it had granted $4.8 million in public funding for construction, ownership had to remain with the city. Restoration continued and the exterior was completed in 2014. However, initial hopes for the building apparently have not been achieved as today it remains vacant and is for lease.

San Bernardino Depot, California, courtesy Wikipedia

San Bernardino – In the late 19th century, San Bernardino was chosen as the headquarters for the Santa Fe Railroad’s massive Pacific Coast Locomotive Works, a transportation center serving rail passengers and the Railroad’s administrative offices. An original wooden depot burned to the ground in 1916 and was replaced by the magnificent depot that stands today. Designed in the Mission Revival style with Moorish influences, the grandiose structure was intended to befit the city image as the “gateway to southern California.” For the first half of the 20th century, the depot flourished; many travelers and business people used the depot and many were entertained at the depot’s famous Harvey House Restaurant. At its heyday, approximately 85 percent of the townspeople were dependent on the railroad for their livelihood.

Unfortunately, the depot’s great success did not protect it from the decline of the railroad industry in the latter half of the century, and it fell into disrepair. For years the old depot sat abandoned until finally in the mid-1990s the City of San Bernardino began to the work to bring the depot back to life. Some $15 million later, the restoration work, including historically accurate renovations of the interior and exterior and installation of utilities, the depot held its grand re-opening in June 2004. Today the renovated depot serves Metrolink, a commuter rail service, as well as Amtrak.

1 thought on “Harvey Hotels & Restaurants on Route 66”

  1. The worst food ever!! The food was cheap, poorly prepared however the cost was expensive. I could not even eat it and The waitress couldn’t care less.

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