The Santa Fe railroad arrived in Belen in 1880, when Belen was just a small farming community. For the next 25 years, there was little train traffic through Belen, because the main rail line went west from Albuquerque. But in 1908 the railroad opened a new line that avoided the steep grades over Raton Pass. This new line was the Belen cut-off, and it routed many more trains through Belen. Belen began to bustle.
The rail passengers who stopped in Belen needed a place to get a good meal. So in 1910 the railroad built a Harvey House restaurant right by the railroad tracks. It was the 86th restaurant in the chain, operated by the Fred Harvey Company. It contained a large lunchroom, a more formal dining room, a newsstand, kitchen facilities, a bakery, and sleeping rooms upstairs for the Harvey Girls who served the meals.
That Harvey House is still standing today. Inside you can find hundreds of memorabilia pertaining to the Harvey House and the Santa Fe Railway, as well as exhibits on early local businesses in Belen. The Harvey House Museum is one of the few places where you can learn about America’s first chain of restaurants. It is a fascinating story.
The Museum is free to the public. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12:30PM to 3:30PM, and Sundays from 1PM to 3PM. Donations are accepted.
There is also a small gift shop selling railroad books and souvenirs. The Belen Model Railroad Club maintains a large working model train exhibit inside the Harvey House. Children of all ages love it. It, too, is free.
To contact the Museum, please call (505) 861-0581.
The Harvey House Museum is located at 104 North First Street. in Belen. To reach the museum, drive East on Reinken Avenue till you reach Second Street., just before the overpass. Turn right, go one block and turn left on Dalies Avenue. Go one block to First Street. You will see the Harvey House at the end of the street. Free parking is available.
Location:104 N. 1st St MAP
Belen, New Mexico 87002