Thanks to our new Fred-friend and railfan Michael Martin of the Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society (and, in a previous life, the last PR guy for the Santa Fe), who is the one who got me invited to speak recently at the Society’s annual convention in Flagstaff but also forwarded this very cool letter from his collection. Readers of Appetite for America know that in the early 1860s, when Fred Harvey’s life was devastated by the destruction of his business by the Civil War and then the death of his first wife while giving birth to their second son, he was rescued by a kind packet boat captain named Rufus Ford, who gave him work and helped him rebuild–which is why Fred named his first son with his second wife Ford. Here is a hand-signed 1885 letter from Fred to the president of the A&P railroad (which at that time ran from Albuquerque to the Pacific and was just a sister line to the ATSF, not yet its full partner in a new transcontinental railway), asking him to give Ford and his wife passage to California as a favor to Fred–who mentions his personal debt of gratitude to the good Captain.
A very cool piece of Harvey history from the Mike Martin Collection.
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