Fred Harvey Postcards from 1905

Fred Harvey, who ran hotels and restaurants along the Santa Fe Railway as well as Santa Fe dining cars, put out hundreds of postcards for tourists to send home. These three cards were published in 1905, before the Postal Service allowed people to write anything but an address on the back of the card. The cards therefore provide some white space below the photos for people to write on.


Click images to download PDFs of these cards.

The first postcard shows the Hotel Castenada in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Built in 1898, it was the first of the great Harvey House hotels. It had about 40 rooms, most of them without baths. Empty for many years, it was recently purchased by someone who has previously restored a Harvey House hotel in Winslow, Arizona.

The second postcard shows El Tovar, Santa Fe’s famous hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon just a few hundred feet away from Santa Fe’s Grand Canyon train station. Opened in 1903, the hotel was designed by Santa Fe architect Charles Whittlesey, and the interior was decorated by Mary Colter. While Santa Fe owned the hotel, it contracted with Fred Harvey to operate it.

The third postcard shows the Hopi House, which was designed by Mary Colter to serve as a store for selling Indian crafts near El Tovar. It opened in 1905, the same year the postcard was published, which explains why the card is more of an illustration than a photograph.

Unlike most postcards of the day, which were printed in Germany, all three of these cards (and, for that matter, other Fred Harvey cards for many years) were printed in Detroit by the Detroit Photographic Company (later Detroit Publishing). The company employed eight full-time photographers, including William Henry Jackson, to travel around the country in specially designed railroad cars taking black-and-white photos of scenery that Detroit artists would turn into color postcards.


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