I was raving about this book in my knitting group and wondering aloud why I'd never heard of Fred Harvey and the Harvey Girls, when Jerri said, "Well, Dana, you were born in Alaska and Fred never made it this far north." Jerri, born in New Mexico, knew all about Fred Harvey.
I didn't and this book was a revelation. Fred Harvey, born in England, emigrated to the US at exactly the right time, when railroads were expanding all across the American West. He went into partnership with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, back when railroads had to make frequent stops to take on fuel for both engine and passengers. Wherever that was Harvey built restaurants, quality restaurants with quality service. Fred would travel anonymously up and down the high iron (main railroad lines) and walk unannounced into the restaurants before the rest of the train's passengers and if he saw so much as a smudge on a glass he'd jerk the tablecloth out from the entire table's place settings and made the staff set it all over again from scratch.