Sunday, April 06, 2014

Fred Harvey at the Grand Canyon

We hiked several sections of trail along the rim of the Grand Canyon, including a visit to Hermit’s Rest, a historic building at the far end of the park road. It’s integrated into the surroundings in a very forward-looking way for its time: 1914. At that time, it took quite a while to get there, so the building offered food and a place to rest for the travelers. Today, a shuttle bus allows one to combine hiking and an easy bus ride.

On the way to Hermit's Rest
Gate to Hermit's Rest
Len at Hermit's Rest
The huge fireplace dominates the interior of the building.
The back of the building
Mary Ann Colter, architect for the Fred Harvey company, designed Hermit’s Rest as well as several other park buildings.
“As with the other buildings she designed for Grand Canyon, Mary Colter designed Hermit’s Rest in what is known as 'National Park Rustic' style. In this style, buildings are supposed to look as if they were built with old-fashioned hand tools and made of materials that at least appear to have been taken from the surrounding landscape. Whereas her first building at Grand Canyon, Hopi House, was inspired by ancient Native American traditions in the area, for Hermit’s Rest Colter drew upon the stories and architecture of Euro-American settlers. The resulting building reflected both the National Park rustic style and Colter’s concept of a hermit’s stone cabin.” -- from "Hermit's Rest" by Arizona State University.
The Harvey company developed tourism in the West in cooperation with the railroads. The Xanterra company that runs the accommodations and food service in the park today is a commercial descendant of Harvey. The old Fred Harvey trademarks still appear on a number of buildings, such as the reservation center, cafeteria, and gift shop of the Yavapai Lodge where we stayed, actually a collection of buildings like old-fashioned motels.

During our stay we ate dinner in two restaurants with the Harvey name. The restaurant in Bright Angel Lodge offers some of the same foods as once served by the Harvey Girls who worked in the many establishments of the Harvey company. I had trout with lemon sauce, and Len had pork roast – both possibly similar to the food of 100 years ago or more. We also ate in the cafeteria of Yavapai Lodge, where my chicken pot pie may be quite authentic to the former era, but it was kind of bland.

The Fred Harvey cafeteria in Yavapai Lodge -- not
a particularly inviting atmosphere!
Every gift shop in the park offers a number of books about the Harvey Girls (famous before the movie with Judy Garland), the Harvey company, about the historic and significant buildings designed by Colter, and the development of travel in the west. Another Colter building, the “studio,” was where the Harvey Company sold photos, post cards, and other items in competition with an artist who had a studio nearby -- the same type of items still for sale in the gift shops now.

The Studio, designed by Mary Ann Colter


Tracy Feldman, painter said...

I had trout the last time I was at the Grand Canyon, in the lodge at the north rim in September 1969. It was quite good, and I am pretty sure the dinner cost $2.75, which didn't seem like a tourist price even then. Arny

Jeanie said...

Sounds like fun, although too bad about the food being bland! I know The Harvey Girls through the Judy Garland movie. Sounds like a good time -- and great view!