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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Boy Away from Home 94 Years Ago

"Trains entering California and Florida through Orange Groves" is a theme that repeats again and again in my post card collection. I posted earlier this year about two post cards with the same scene, one claiming it was in California and the other Florida. This post card is sticking with the California concept. It is certainly a real possibility. When I lived in California there were train tracks that passed next to and through orange groves. I remember one that went through an avocado grove! In the bottom left of the post card, starting the title, is the combination: H-2290. This immediately tells me that this post card was printed so the the Fred Harvey Company could sell it.

In 1878 Fred Harvey was the first to established a chain of restaurants then hotels across the Southwest that provided quality service. Much was done to market the region including publishing large series of postcards depicting Native Americans and local scenery. In 1897 Harvey took over the news stands for the A.T.&S.F. Railroad and began distributing postcards. The Santa Fe Railroad also did a great deal to publicize its Route to the Grand Canyon. A large amount of postcards were produced depicting the canyon and the Railroad’s hotel interests within the National Park.
Fred Harvey himself provided some of the images for these cards until his death in 1901. Between 1901 and 1932 the Company contracted all their cards with the Detroit Publishing Company (that is who printed this post card). These cards have an H prefix before their identification number, but in addition Detroit published many of Harvey’s images on their own. After Detroit closed, many of Harvey’s cards were contracted out to Curt Teich among others.

The message on the back is a son telling his mother that he is okay and in North Bend, Oregon. She lives in Hilltop, Kansas. My short research indicates to me that Hilltop's post office was discontinued in August of 1951. I am not sure if it disappeared altogether, or if it was absorbed into Wichita. There is an area in Kansas that is remembered in Wikipedia as Hilltop, but there is also a district in Wichita named Hilltop.

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If you know anything about the history of the cards, the trains or the locations, please add them.