If you end up “standing on the corner” in Winslow, Arizona, you might want to want walk catty-wampus across the intersection and wander through the La Pasada hotel. One of the last remaining railroad hotels that has been gloriously restored to its original splendor. It represents the history of the Southwest that is both interesting and wonderful a wonderful story.
At the end of the Civil War the railroad companies were encouraged to build west, but the government was lacking any money to fund such an operation. Given that lack of funds, the railroads were offered land in a patchwork pattern on either side of the tracks to be sold by them when the railroad was built. Great idea, but wasn’t working out well. Men came from the east to make their riches and then wanted to head back east. They were not interested in buying land and living in the southwest . But Fred Harvey saw that there was money to be made….he wanted to be the one to make the fortune on providing food and housing along the railroad line. Another good idea, but there wasn’t anyone to work in the hotels locally!!!. Native Americans could neither speak English nor desired to work in hotels, so Harvey put ads in newspapers east of the Mississippi for young women to travel, make a salary, live in dormitories, and have an adventure while working in the hotels. Over 100,000 women came west. Fred Harvey is credited with “civilizing the west” by bringing good women to the west. The men married the Harvey girls (girls were happy), bought the land (railroad was happy), people travelled by railroad (Havrey made money), the men settled down to ranching and farming. Harvey girls are an important part of the history of the southwest.
Check out the history of the Harvey girls both at the museum at the Bright Angel Lodge at the Grand Canyon but also tours are given by a Harvey girl at the La Pasada. The tour is wonderful and entertaining.
As a side benefit, the art work of Tina Mion is on display at the La Pasada. Her contemporary art work has been exhibited three times at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The La Pasada is owned by Tina Mion and her husband.
The restaurant is fabulous, the rooms enduring and well appointed, the tours wonderful, the artwork incredible. Highly recommended.