Grand Canyon Postcards
“Entrance to Bright Angel Lodge, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.” Fred Harvey Postcard.
A large portion of the Farmer archive’s collection of Fred Harvey postcards depicts scenes from the Grand Canyon National Park, mostly images of Harvey accommodations and attractions. Besides the Harvey Company, numerous business located in or near National Parks utilized postcards as promotional material for their services. These businesses included tour companies, hotels, restaurants, and railroads, “the most aggressive advertisers.” Often the most powerful lobbyists for the establishment of National Parks, railroads offered ways of traveling with ease and to the parks. For example, with the Harvey Company, the Harvey family utilized postcards heavily to advertise the restaurants and hotels that they build along the Grand Canyon, which were adjacent to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. In addition to the Grand Canyon, the Harvey Company also advertised through postcards their lodgings—along with their “well-prepared meals and clean bed linens”—at other National Parks such as Yosemite. Such advertisements, including this example showing the Bright Angel Lodge at the Grand Canyon, emphasized how the Harvey Company’s hotels and restaurants offered places of respite and civility for travelers before “they trekked into the wilds” of National Parks such as the Grand Canyon.
The back of this postcard states: “Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins are situated on the Canyon’s rim near the head of the Bright Angel Trail. Attractive lounge and entertainment facilities, as well as a large coffee shop, are provided in the Main Lodge.”
“Hermit’s Rest, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.” Fred Harvey Postcard.
Designed by Mary Colter and built in 1914, Hermit’s Rest is located in Grand Canyon National Park, several miles westward of Hopi House. Created from stone and tucked into a “small man-made earthen mound” several feet back from the Canyon’s rim edge, Hermit’s Rest was “designed to resemble a dwelling constructed by an untrained mountain man using the natural timber and boulders of the area.” Originally, Hermit’s Rest was built as a rest stop for the stage line that traveled between the building and the El Tovar Hotel. From the structure’s entrance, which is marked by “a small stone arch set in a stone wall,” guests are greeted by “a haphazard looking structure.” Of the portions of Hermit’s Rest that are not contained within the mound, those viewable to visitors are created from rubble masonry, cement mortar, glass, and structural logs, and have chimneys made from “gently battered rubble masonry.”
The back of this postcard reads: “Hermit’s Rest, at the western terminus of The Grand Canyon Rim Drive, is considered one of America’s best examples of hidden architecture.—‘A striking cave-home in the cliffs, but of majestic proportions. The rough and unhewn rocks have been cunningly put into place so that from the exterior one can scarce tell where cliff ends and building begins.’ —George Wharton James.”
“The Fire Place, ‘Hermit’s Rest,’ Grand Canyon, Ariz.” Fred Harvey Postcard.
Along with Hermit’s Rest, Hopi House, Desert View Watchtower, and Lookout Studio are Mary Colter’s least altered and some of the few remaining works of the “master architect and interior designer.” Chief architect and decorator for the Harvey Company from 1902 through 1948, Colter took direct inspiration from the land and Native cultures of the Grand Canyon for the buildings, which are located on the Canyon’s South Rim. With her Grand Canyon designs, Colter set the stage for the “appropriate” artistic aesthetic in the nation’s National Parks. Her Canyon buildings were also integral to both the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Santa Fe Railway as well as the Fred Harvey Company and their South Rim destination resort.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1869, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter grew up between Texas, Colorado, and Minnesota before attending the California School of Design in San Francisco. While in California, she underwent an architectural apprenticeship before returning to Minnesota and teaching in St. Paul. Eventually, however, Colter mined her informal contacts with the Fred Harvey Company to secure a job as the interior designer of the new Alvarado Hotel’s Indian Building in Albuquerque. Quickly, Colter’s reputation within the Company grew, in part due to her fondness for “rustic” architecture and the use of natural materials in forms mimicking nature. One can see such fondness apparent throughout Colter’s Grand Canyon designs, including Hermit’s Rest. A perfectionist, Colter achieved success in a largely male-dominated field, but had to spend most of her life advocating for herself and defending “her aesthetic vision.” When she turned 79 in 1948, Colter retired from the Fred Harvey Company after spending forty-six years with them, following her first job in 1902. At the age of 88, Coulter passed away on January 8, 1958.
The back of this postcard states: “One of the most appealing features of the new Rest House, Grand Canyon, is the great fire place, with its ruddy glow and snapping logs and sense of ease and well being. At the end of a long ride down Hermit Trail a seat before the fire in an easy lounging chair or upon a comfortable couch with a cup of hot tea is a feeling and a memory of pleasant cheer.”
“The Hopi House, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.” Fred Harvey Postcard.
Designed by Mary Colter and built in 1905, the Hopi House at Grand Canyon National Mark is multi-storied, built of stone masonry, and evokes Hopi pueblo architecture. With its design, Colter began a relationship with the Harvey Company, as well as the National Park Service, that continued for over forty years. In addition to Hopi House, Colter designed several other Harvey structures in and around the Grand Canyon, including Hermit’s Rest, Phantom Ranch, and the Lookout Studio. Initially, Colter was asked to design Hopi House as a place to sell Native American artwork. As a result, she consulted with Hopi artists from local villages on both the building’s design and construction. While somewhat romanticized, Hopi House’s design reflects Colter’s commitment to making the interior and exterior reflect “local Pueblo building styles.” To do so, low ceilings and small windows reduce harsh light from the desert and increase the interior’s cool atmosphere. In addition, corner fireplaces, wall niches, adobe walls, a ceremonial altar, and sand paintings decorate the House’s interior. Rectangular in plan, the Hopi House has multiple, stepped roofs evocative of Pueblo architecture, and most rooms within the building have “Hopi-style” ceilings made from grasses, twigs, and saplings coated with mud and resting on peeled log beams. From the outside, made from shattered pottery mortared together, the House’s chimneys poke upwards from the red sandstone interior.
At the beginning of the Hopi House’s tenure as a venue for the sale of Native artwork, the Fred Harvey Company invited Hopi artists to do demonstrations on how to produce their weavings, pottery, jewelry, and other art objects. Those works would, subsequently, be put up for sale, and the artists received both wages and lodging at the House. Yet, the Harvey Company did not allow Hopi artists to have any stake of ownership in the House and restricted their selling of goods directly to tourists. However, by the end of the 1920s, the Company started to allow some Hopi workers to have “positions of responsibility in the business.” For example, famed artist Fred Kabotie (Hopi) both painted the Hopi Snake Legend mural inside the Desert View Watchtower as well as managed the Hopi House’s gift show in the 1930s. Additionally, Porter Timeche (Hopi) demonstrated an aptitude for sales when, after he was hired to demonstrate blanket weaving at the House, he “was so fond of chatting with visitors that he rarely finished a blanket to sell.” As a result, he was offered a salesman position in the House’s gift shop and later went on to be a buyer for “the Fred Harvey concessions at the Grand Canyon.” In 1995, during a total renovation of Hopi House, Hopi consultants helped ensure that no original design or architectural elements were altered during the restoration effort.
While the Hopi House’s prominence and singularity as the only Harvey lodging in the Grand Canyon named after a specific tribe might lead one to believe that Hopi peoples were the only Native peoples in the area, this is decidedly false. Rather, twelve different Native tribes have had and continue to have cultural ties to the Grand Canyon. These include Havasupai, Hopi, and Hualapai peoples, the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, the Las Vegas Band of Paiute Indians, the Moapa band of Paiute Indians, the Navajo Nation, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Zuni Pueblo, and the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
The back of this postcard reads: “The Hopi House is an exact reproduction of a Hopi Indian pueblo. It is an irregular stone structure plastered with adobe and rising three stories high. Here are Hopi men, women, and children—some decorating and burning pottery, others spinning yarn and weaving…dresses and blankets, and perhaps some maidens weaving a basket. Several rooms in the Hopi House are devoted to a rare and costly exhibit of Indian handicraft.”
“Hotel El Tovar, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.” Fred Harvey Postcard.
One of a handful of Fred Harvey Houses still operating today, the El Tovar Hotel was designed in 1902 by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Santa Fe Railway’s (ATSF) lead architect, Charles F. Whittlesey. In 1903, construction for the building began and concluded in January 1905. When the Santa Fe Railway commissioned El Tovar’s construction in 1902, they dreamt of “a first-class four-story hotel…with almost one hundred rooms” designed by Whittlesey, a Chicago-based architect closely affiliated with the Fred Harvey Company. To bring such building into fruition, the railway partnered with the Fred Harvey Company to both “capitalize upon the [Southwest] region’s newfound popularity” and “cater to the potential scores of people that were anticipated to visit the area.” Located only 330 feet away from the Grand Canyon’s ATSF depot, the El Tovar Hotel was one of the first of a new strain of “grand tourist lodges” constructed at newly developed National Parks in the early 1900s—National Parks that were becoming increasingly accessible tourist destinations as railroad service reached them in the late nineteenth century.
Built of Oregon pine and native Arizonan stone, the El Tovar Hotel is located close to the Grand Canyon’s rim. During the over one hundred and twenty years that the hotel has been in service, the “rustic wood frame tourist lodge” has hosted celebrities and world leaders such as President Teddy Roosevelt, Zane Grey, Albert Einstein, and President Bill Clinton. At the time of its completion, in 1905, the Hotel El Tovar cost roughly $250,000, an outrageous price for the time. Regardless, the hotel has continued to attract a wide array of visitors with its “eclectic, 19th-century character” driven by elements borrowed from “Swiss chalets and Adirondack Mountain lodges as well as log cabin architecture of the American West.” Inside the building, its furnishings were heavily inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, and outside, the hotel’s “pyramidal hipped roof” mimics other Stick Style structures of the era.
Named for Pedro de Tobar, also written as de Tovar, the Hotel El Tovar borrowed its name from a Spanish explorer, one who was a member of “conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado's 1540 gold-seeking expedition to the Desert Southwest.” In 1974, the hotel was added to the National Register of Historic places—number 74000334. Since its creation, the Hotel El Tovar has passed out of the Harvey Company’s hands and has undergone renovations in 1983 and 2005, with another planned for 2017.
Several postcards were “at the heart” of the Harvey Company’s advertising campaigns. These include both “Entrance to Hotel El Tovar, Grand Canyon, Arizona” as well as “The Start from El Tovar on a Grand Canyon Drive, Arizona.” The back of this postcard explains that it was produced using the “Phostint” process of the Detroit Publishing Company, and its caption reads: “El Tovar at Grand Canyon is built of native boulders and pine logs from far-off Oregon. Its lines are in harmony with the simplicity of its surroundings. It is named after Don Pedro del Tovar, leader of a detachment of Coronado’s expedition in 1540 that explored and conquered the Province of Tusayan, now known as Hopi Land.”
“Dining Room, El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.” Fred Harvey Postcard.
The back of this postcard states: “For a third of a century El Tovar, one of America’s finest resort hotels, has spread its wide-flung comfort on the Canyon’s rim. The rustic dining room, with its huge fireplace, is internationally renowned for its excellent cuisine.”
“The Lookout Studio, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.” Fred Harvey Postcard.
In this Fred Harvey postcard, the Lookout Studio in Grand Canyon National Park is featured prominently. Built in 1914, the Lookout Studio was intended to be a stopping point where visitors “could photograph the Grand Canyon from its precipitous edge” and utilize telescopes to “observe the natural beauty the canyon offered.” Designed by Mary Colter, the Lookout Studio rests on a precipice to the west of the Hotel El Tovar and offered “a neat, comfortable rustic studio of stone and log timbers” during its heyday. As with the Hopi House, Colter drew heavily from Native American architectural influences when designing the Lookout Studio; the exterior stonework is evocative of the historic Native dwellings found throughout the area. Specifically, the Studio appears to grow out from the edge of the Grand Canyon’s rim; Colter utilized the existing natural rock outcroppings and canyon edge to shape the Studio’s form. In addition, the “parapet rooflines and stone chimneys” of the Lookout Studio similarly evoke the irregular bedrock surrounding the site. Inside the Lookout Studio, visitors are confronted with several levels supported by logwork beams, posts, and ceiling joists. Along with other Colter structures such as the Hopi House, the Lookout Studio boasts scored concrete floors and exposed stone interior walls. In contrast to Colter’s other Grand Canyon structures, however, the Lookout Studio is considerably lighter on the interior—a result of all the building’s viewing windows, the defining feature making it an attractive “lookout.”
The back of this postcard reads: “The Lookout Studio is a building on the brink of the Grand Canyon from which the great chasm can be viewed to good advantage. A telescope mounted in the tower of the building makes possible a detailed view in either direction.”
 “The National Parks,” University of Maryland University Libraries, accessed June 30, 2022, https://exhibitions.lib.umd.edu/postcards/the-national-parks.
 “Mary Colter and Her Buildings at the Grand Canyon,” National Park Service, accessed June 30, 2022, https://www.nps.gov/articles/marycolter.htm?utm_source=article&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=experience_more&utm_content=small.
 “El Tovar Hotel – History,” Historic Hotels of America, accessed June 30, 2022, https://www.historichotels.org/us/hotels-resorts/el-tovar-hotel/history.php.
 “Mary Colter and Her Buildings at the Grand Canyon,” National Park Service.
 “El Tovar Hotel – History,” Historic Hotels of America.
 “Associated Tribes,” National Parks Service, accessed July 12, 2022, https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/historyculture/associated-tribes.htm.
 “El Tovar Hotel,” Historic Hotels of America.
 “Fred Harvey Company, El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ,” Pacific Coast Architecture Database, accessed June 30, 2022, https://pcad.lib.washington.edu/building/4305/.
 “El Tovar Hotel,” Historic Hotels of America.
 “Fred Harvey Company, ” Pacific Coast Architecture Database.
 “The National Parks,” University of Maryland University Libraries.
 “Mary Colter and Her Buildings at the Grand Canyon,” National Park Service.