“Naming the car after Fred Harvey is a tribute to the legendary customer service standards established by the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad,” said Bob Baker, general manager of train operations. “It is our goal to maintain and honor the legacy of the Fred Harvey Company and its commitment to quality railroad hospitality.”
The new, 66-seat luxury dome class car interior and mechanical systems were completely stripped and rebuilt from the wheels up over the course of close to one year, and the car received a fresh coat of exterior paint. Grand Canyon Railway invested more than $1 million in labor and materials to bring the Fred Harvey back to life.
The car features a lounge area, two restrooms and two bars. Upstairs are 66 assigned seats running the full length of the car. The downstairs seating area features a Victorian decor and is reminiscent of the early days of train travel when ladies and gentlemen traveled in luxury with the fine clothing, meals and service almost as important as the final destination. Two passenger service attendants provide personal attention, and luxury dome passengers also have access to the back platform of the luxury parlor class car and all cars forward.
Careful attention was paid to sustainability during the renovation of the car. Environmentally friendly features include:
* High-end Dupont paint with a low level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
* LED lighting
* 100 percent formaldehyde-free wool carpet
* Low-VOC adhesives
* Refurbished seat frames
The Grand Canyon Railway runs 65 miles from Williams, Arizona, to the South Rim inside the park. It takes about two-and-a-quarter hours. There are five levels of passenger service, from coach class to the luxury dome seats. Coach tickets run $75 for adults, $45 for children under 15. Roundtrip travel between Williams and the South Rim in luxury dome class is $190 per adult over the age of 15. Children 15 and younger may not ride in this class of service.
Included in the ticket is a light continental breakfast consisting of fresh fruit and pastries during the morning trip and fresh vegetables, cheese, and crackers along with a complimentary sparkling wine toast on the return trip. Coffee, soft drinks and juices are also included. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase at one of the cash bars on board.
Reservations may be made by calling 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724). Reservations for this new class of service are not yet available on-line.
The Fred Harvey was originally called the Copper Canyon and was built in 1955 by the Budd Company for the Great Northern Railway’s premier “name train,” the Empire Builder which ran from Chicago to Portland and Seattle. Amtrak still has a train called the Empire Builder running on the same route through Glacier National Park.
The Empire Builder was run jointly by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, Great Northern and Spokane and Portland & Seattle railroads. These railroads each owned individual cars used on the train. The Copper Canyon was owned by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, but it was painted in Great Northern colors to match the Empire Builder train sets.
Through the years this equipment was used by the Great Northern, Burlington Northern, Amtrak, Auto Train and American Orient Express/Grand Luxe until it was purchased by Xanterra Parks & Resorts and delivered to Grand Canyon Railway.
The dome car was named Fred Harvey in honor of the famed restaurateur who was known as the “Civilizer of the West” because of his contributions to hospitality and tourism throughout the West.
Fred Harvey was a railroad man who knew that travelers into the West had to put up with unpalatable food that was often served in such a short period of time that passengers were unable to eat a proper meal before the trains departed. He was determined to bring good food, civilized service and attractive, honestly run eating houses and hotels to travelers in the West.
In 1876, Fred Harvey opened his first railway restaurant in Topeka, Kan. From that modest beginning, the Harvey organization grew into a far-flung resort, restaurant, hotel and retail organization, with operations extending from Cleveland to the West Coast.
Serving the good food were the famed “Harvey Girls” -– pretty, well-trained waitresses. The girls were recruited from good homes in the East and had a major part in taming the West. To the frontier outposts of the West, where stampeding buffalo herds were as common as attacking Indians, train robberies and horse thieving, the Harvey Girls brought culture, refinement and romance.
Fred Harvey died in 1901 but his sons operated the business until the 1930s. Amfac Parks & Resorts (renamed Xanterra Parks & Resorts in 2002) purchased the company in 1968. The company still honors the Harvey name through its retail division, Fred Harvey Trading Company.
Xanterra purchased the Grand Canyon Railway in 2007, thus reuniting the train with its Fred Harvey roots.
The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel was designed to resemble the historic Fray Marcos Hotel and Williams Depot structures that stand nearby. The hotel is comprised of 199 standard rooms, 87 deluxe rooms, 10 suites and one luxury suite – the Rail Baron Suite – as well as a spacious meeting room available for wedding receptions, seminars and other functions; a large courtyard with barbecue and wet bar; a game room for children; a large enclosed crescent-shaped pool, hot tub and an exercise room.
Grand Canyon Railway is an authorized concessioner of the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. For more information, www.thetrain.com or call 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724).