Our Best Trip Ever - Part 4 - A Railfan Oasis, The La Posada Hotel

(Continued from: Our Best Trip Ever - Part 3 - The Run East Continues)

Day 1 (Continued)

La Posada Hotel Background

There are some, but not many, places that offer a spectacular railroad viewing opportunity coupled with truly refreshing and luxurious accommodations track side. Our favorite, to date, is located in Winslow, Arizona and it is truly an oasis for railfans and travelers alike. It is the La Posada Hotel , a National Historic Landmark, and billed as “Arizona’s grandest estate.

The La Posada Hotel’s historic and notable story begins back in 1901, when the Fred Harvey Company, of the famous Harvey Houses, offered the job of decorating the Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to an aspiring interior designer Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter.

Mary Jane Colter, an American architect.Eventually she began working full-time for the Fred Harvey Company in 1910 and remained in their employ for the next 30 years. In her career she designed many notable lodges and hotels - many of which are located in or near the rim of the Grand Canyon including the Phantom Ranch, Hopi House, Hermit’s Rest, Lookout Studio, Bright Angel Lodge, and the Desert View Watchtower.

As part of the landmark collaboration between the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railrway Company and the Fred Harvey Company, she designed and decorated the La Posada Hotel in 1929. She had a part in every design aspect of the project right down to the china and the modified Harvey Girls uniforms.

The hotel remained in service with the Santa Fe Railway until it closed in 1957. For the next 34 years the property was used as the headquarters of the Santa Fe Railway’s Arizona operations with Colter’s charm and character hidden behind false walls and vinyl flooring. In 1994, with the risk of demolition looming, Allan Affeldt, a self-taught architect and a man with tremendous vision, purchased the property from the railroad — saving this piece of history from certain doom.

Allan Affeldt’s vision was to restore the La Posada’s grandeur to what Mary Colter had created and open the hotel once again despite his lack of hotelier skills. So in 1997, Allan and his wife, artist Tina Mion, moved in to the La Posada Hotel and began their over $12 million restoration effort. No one, not even the Winslow City Council had faith that the effort would ever be completed. Fortunately, they were wrong. Thanks to the tireless dedication of Allan and his team the La Posada Hotel has reopened replete with Mary Colter’s original vision and feel, and, just like Mary Colter, and with selfish interests duly noted, I consider her La Posada Hotel her masterpiece — and today it is also Allan Affeldt’s masterpiece.

La Posada Hotel Postcard - © Copyright 2011, Debra Parra

La Posada Hotel Gardens Postcard - © Copyright 2011, Debra Parra

Check-In Time

Perhaps not unlike train travelers of years past, just under twenty-four hours after we left our modest abode in Ontario, California, we checked-in at the La Posada Hotel. Once we had keys in hand, we headed out to the truck to gather our luggage and cherished belongings because for the next two days we were to figuratively bathe in luxury and, literally, an in-room jacuzzi tub!

Once we reached our impeccable room the grit and grime of a full day’s travel and chase became apparent. After I got my items situated, as I need to be organized, and while Deb slumbered on the bed, I took a shower, all the while eager to watch the night’s train activity on BNSF’s vaunted transcon from less than a stone’s throw away from the hotel.

Check-Out Time

No, we weren’t scheduled to check-out of the hotel for two more days, rather I am talking about checking out the hotel. Once showered, and after bidding Deb a brief farewell as she rested, I armed myself with my camera and made my way towards the lobby for a few interior shots of the beautifully restored and appointed hotel.

The following two shots give a glimpse into the spectacular furnishings and accoutrements of the public areas of the La Posada Hotel:

La Posada Hotel Ballroom - The Ballroom of the gorgeous La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona.
[4/17/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry

La Posada Hotel Cinderblock Court - The Cinderblock Court of the gorgeous La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona.
[4/17/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry
As I went outside to have a smoke and check on the train action I saw something novel and unique. I ran to the truck to grab my tripod to try to get clean photos of the something that should make for a killer image.

In the next post I’ll show you shots from the grounds around the La Posada Hotel.

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