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8:48 PM Sun, Sept. 23rd

Ash Fork unveils Harvey House replica Saturday

The elegant Escalante Harvey House in Ash Fork, circa 1900.

Courtesy Sharlot Hall Museum

The elegant Escalante Harvey House in Ash Fork, circa 1900. Courtesy Sharlot Hall Museum

The Ash Fork Historical Society is commemorating the community's railroad and Harvey House history with the unveiling of an intricate model of the elegant Hotel Escalante Saturday.

The public is welcome to attend the free unveiling alongside the historical society's annual open house. It also features a free lunch that the historical society members make to thank the community for its support.

The event takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the historical society's museum, which is located in the old Arizona Department of Transportation building on the west end of Route 66.

Historical society volunteers Wayne and Nancy Ulrich spent more than 1,100 hours over seven months creating the 8-foot by 9-foot model of the Escalante, which they built to scale.

The Escalante was widely considered one of the best Harvey Houses in the West.

It featured a dining room, reading room, curio shop, newsstand, barbershop and depot, Arizona's Official Historian Marshall Trimble wrote in his book about his hometown of Ash Fork. The back sported a fountain and the town's only grassy area, which attracted Trimble and his friends for football games until they were caught.

An Englishman named Fred Harvey ran 15 hotels and 47 restaurants along the Santa Fe railroad line to serve the railroad company and its passengers.

"The fabulous Escalante Hotel was the crown jewel of Harvey Houses along the Santa Fe main line between Kansas City and Los Angeles," Trimble wrote. "It closed in 1951 and was demolished in 1968 in what can only be described as a tragic loss of an important piece of Western history."

Then-Governor Jack Williams, whose father worked at the hotel, would not try to help save the landmark from the railroad company's wrecking ball, despite townspeople's pleas, Trimble wrote.

A monument at the site of the Escalante commemorates the hotel and the community's connections to the railroad.

Contact the reporter at jdodder@prescottaz.com