Originally numbered #891, this oil-burning locomotive was used exclusively for freight in Texas, Oklahoma, and surrounding states, although many of this class were operating on freight lines in California. This particular locomotive's record tells of service on Santa Fe's Northern, Southern, Panhandle, Plains, and Gulf Divisions. The engine's appearance changed very little during its 55-year career, and the locomotive was in active service when the Santa Fe Railroad donated it to Travel Town.
Although this particular Santa Fe locomotive was used exclusively on freight trains, the engineers, firebox attendants, conductors, and various other personnel on board had to eat during their long hauls across the Santa Fe system. While their fellow workers on other railroads rushed in and out of slop houses between runs, Santa Fe men and women could boast of enjoying the best railroad fare in the U. S.: Harvey House dining.
Fred Harvey was born in Great Britain in the 1830s, and, as a young man, came to seek his fortune in the United States. He worked in a variety of trades including the restaurant business, and even worked as a railway postal clerk during the Civil War. In 1876, he was able to establish his Harvey House chain of railroad-side restaurants by cultivating an exclusive agreement with the Santa Fe Railroad based on a promise that he would do something innovative in food service. In 1888, he became concessionaire for Santa Fe's extensive dining car service. Fred Harvey lived up to his claim of achieving a new standard in dining service. He did it by refusing to buy anything but the best raw foods (eventually he would purchase whole crops from growers so as to guarantee that his restaurants would be supplied with a consistent quality of food.) He employed the best managers, he treated his patrons like welcome guests, he employed friendly and courteous women as waitresses. In many ways his operation was successful for the same reasons the modern fast-food chains are so successful: Harvey offered consistent food quality served in familiar, reliable, clean, friendly settings. For decades, the other major railroads, left behind in the quality of their food service, strove to equal the Harvey House reputation.