Before 1878, when Fred Harvey entered an agreement with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway to manage restaurants at railroad depots, passengers packed their own food or bought it from vendors. The agreement called for buildings to be designed and built by the railroad - Fred Harvey did the rest which included high standards for quality food preparation and first class service. The waitress, who were young and unmarried, wore long black dresses and white aprons and were expected to follow a strict code of conduct.
Eventually there were 84 Harvey Houses. Some closed during the 1930s depression. More closed as train travel declined. Most of the buildings were demolished but a few have been restored and still operate as restaurants and hotels. Others have been restored and serve other purposes.
The Belen Harvey House is now a museum with exhibits about the Belen House and Harvey Houses around the country. Donated artifacts are arranged in displays that cover local history. A special Christmas exhibit with a hundred decorated trees runs from Thanksgiving until December 30th.
The first floor where most of the exhibits are located is accessible. The second floor is accessed by stairs only.
RVs must be parked on the street as the entry road to the parking lot is steep and has a sharp dip. Visitors in wheelchairs will need assistance to get up to the entry road. Museum 34.66031, -106.7683