Topic of Talk - Journalist Fried to speak about local Harvey Houses

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Submitted to the Optic

New Mexico Highlands University presents journalist and author Stephen Fried in a free public talk Oct. 23 about the local Harvey Houses at the Montezuma Castle and the Castañeda Hotel.
The talk will be at 7 p.m. in the Burris Hall Room 129, 903 National Ave.

Fried is an award-winning investigative journalist and the author of five books, including the 2010 nonfiction Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West One Meal at a Time.

Fried teaches journalism at the University of Pennsylvania. He was also on the faculty of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism for a number of years.

In a Wall Street Journal review, Appetite for America is called, “Impressive ... a business story and a sweeping social history populated with memorable characters.”

Fred Harvey was an entrepreneur who developed an extensive chain of hotels, shops and restaurants along the Santa Fe Railway and other railroads in the late 1800s. He staffed his establishments with an army of customer-service professionals, including the famous Harvey Girls.

Harvey is credited with creating the first restaurant chain in the United States and was a leader in promoting tourism in the Southwest. In their heyday, the historic Castañeda Hotel in Las Vegas and the Montezuma Castle in Montezuma were successful Harvey Houses.

Fried’s talk is part of Tim Crofton’s introduction to public speaking class this semester at Highlands. The class is part of the Wild, Wild West learning community, where the students both write and speak about the theme.  

“Fred Harvey was an integral part of the history of the American West,” Crofton said. “He was a visionary and pioneer in providing inexpensive, good food to accommodate trains schedules. The Harvey Girls, who came primarily from the Midwest in the late 1800s to work at the Harvey Houses, brought a sense of refinement and respectability to his hotels and restaurants.”

Fried speaks across the country and is known for his research on his topics.

“Stephen Fried exemplifies good public speaking,” Crofton said.

At the talk, Tome on the Range will sell copies of Appetite for America and Fried will sign his book.