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                             “Best Little City By A Dam Site!”

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“First Eating House”

Text Box: FIRST EATING HOUSE - local legend holds that this building was Fred Harvey's
first  eating house.  As such it led the parade of a great line of fine restaurants along the
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad.  (Ass't Web Master note:  This building was 
located on the southeast corner of Ninth Street and  Carson Avenue one block south of the
railroad crossing and the train deport.  It was razed sometime in the late seventies and 
presently is a well groomed and landscaped children's playground, a side yard for the
residence to the south of its location). 
Article and Photo by LE ROY BOYD from the Pueblo Chieftain 
and Star-Journal,  Jan. 23,1972
LAS ANIMAS (C-SJ) -- Fred Harvey became a great name in the West, especially along the
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad.  The man was a true entrepreneur and he saw a need,
which he supplied, for first class restaurants at stopping places along that railroad.
                                                                        Harvey Girls
     His waitresses, most of whom he hired in the East, soon became famous as the Fred Harvey
Girls, later to be celebrated in books, songs and movies.  More than one of those girls married
a rancher or cowboy who came to the restaurant where she worked and raised stalwart sons, 
who carried on the tradition  of the Old West. 
     What is generally not known is that Las Animas claims to be the first place where a Fred 
Harvey restaurant was located.
                                                       XY Brand
     According to the story, Harvey had a ranch in the Caddoa area and his brand was the XY.
The printed edition of the Minutes of the Bent-Prowers Cattle and Horse Growers Association
Shows.  Harvey was a member of that organization.  The listed number of cattle he ran on his 
ranch ranged from 1,000 head to 4,000 and more.
     Harvey's name appears for the first time in the minutes of the meeting of April 12, 1893, 
when he was assessed $10 in membership dues on 4,000 head of cattle.  Over those early years
he gave Byron and Barton as an address, and on April 10, 1899, he gave his address as Las 
Animas.  
                                                                 First Restaurant
     No definite date is given, but local legend has it that Fred Harvey established his first 
eating house at Las Animas and butchered some of his own cows to obtain steaks and roasts.
     If the time of that first restaurant is uncertain, the date when he first had a ranch in Bent
County is not known either.  It is before he became a member of the cattlemen's organization. 
     At least a building still standing and occupied in Las Animas is sometimes pointed out as 
that first eating house.
                                                                Top Reputation
     Whatever one might believe concerning the local legend, it is a fact that the Fred Harvey 
Hotel and Restaurant adjoining the railroad station at the La Junta  junction enjoyed in its 
day a high reputation.  It became an elite social center for the community and the thing to do
for  residents in the area to have Sunday dinner there.
     The La Junta establishment operated for many years, and during World War II troops in
transit on the Santa Fe were fed there.
     With the decline of business following that war, the large structure of the railroad ticket
office and the Fred Harvey business was razed.  The railroad built a smaller structure for its
office but the Harvey House became a thing of the past.
But the memories of those fine meals still remains.

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