Designing the West
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Designing the West:

The Legacy of Mary Jane Colter and Fred Harvey  

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Designing the West:

The Legacy of Mary Jane Colter and Fred Harvey

Last Offered May 2–6, 2011

Fred Harvey's La Posada in Winslow, Arizona; we'll savor two nights at Mary Jane Colter's masterpiece.


Thanks to you all who enjoyed this wonderful new learning vacation in 2011!

We hope to be able to offer this learning vacation again. 

Questions? (520) 887-2340


Mary Colter's gardens still offer respite from the travails of travel...



This reflecting pool is new, but the ironwork on windows and doors are reflections of Colter.


In early days of La Posada, many railroad travelers preferred to get off now and then and overnight along the way.

Surely many early Harvey Girls swooned at the likes of Gable; today the tradition is carried on in lively interpretations of yesteryear.

Colter's Lookout Studio, 1914, blends into the Canyon's rim rocks, and offers a view of El Tovar through its blue windows

The Canyon's daytime views are glorious; after sunset, a long (40 second) exposure can bring out deep rich colors beyond the eye's reach.

Hermit's Rest, 1914, has its own story to tell to the keen observer of Colter's details; who was this Hermit?

The colors and workmanship of Bright Angel Lodge are amazing to behold


Cameron Trading post offers both history and comfort, including what many travelers dub the best Navajo Taco. Dinosaur tracks grace the entrance of one of the buildings (no, the Post's not that old) and the Gallery offers some of the finest in Southwest arts & crafts.

Arizona's painted Desert has long been an attraction

Colter teamed with Hopi artist Fred Kabotie to decorate the interior of the Painted Desert Inn.

Nearing Old Route 66, one finds tradition: abandoned cars, abandoned gas stations; diners with good roadside food...burgers & a Coke, and more...


How does one eat Navajo fried bread? With honey, a smile and a big bite! Many say the best fried bread is crafted from Blue Bird flour; best aprons, too!





Colter's Desert View Watchtower (1932) is undergoing a deep renovation, but her original handprint remains visible throughout

The kiva-inspired roof of the main room is built from timbers from an earlier lodge. Canyon views abound!



The scouting trips required to put the tour together smoothly occasionally find Mary & Piet camping; BFT hasn't offered camping trips for nearly 20 years, but Mary & Piet still indulge themselves now and then, as here at the Grand Canyon.

Scouting requires testing desserts at Bright Angel Lodge (we split it!)

Beware: If you accidentally drop crumbs from Bright Angel's amazing double chocolate muffins, you'll attract the local residents.


La Posada in the Good Ol' Days

Visitors to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim often overlook the architectural genius and cultural authenticity exhibited there in the many works by Mary Colter. However, those who take note will find even the awesome spectacle of the canyon itself enhanced by her innovative creativity. In the last decades of the 19th-Century, America was ripe for leisurely exploration and adventure into the vast and unknown American West. The quickly expanding railroads were replacing stagecoaches; travel was faster, but still rough around the edges, and the travelers’ minds were filled with dime novel images of wild Indians and an untamed land. Enter Fred Harvey, who teams with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad to masterfully provide comfort, reliability and even luxury in both Santa Fe’s dining cars and his famed Harvey Houses. At the dawn of the Twentieth Century, the Harvey Company hired Colter to design the interior of the impressive Alvarado, his Harvey House in Albuquerque. The rest is history; Colter’s brilliance and attention to detail were an immediate success and endure today in what we think of as Southwest Style.

Join us to rediscover the West, looking through the lenses of history, architecture and interior design to examine and explore Mary Colter’s many stunning buildings and interiors in northern Arizona, as well as Fred Harvey’s legacy, and the impact of fabled Route 66. Our journey includes round-trip transportation from Tucson; four hotel nights (two each at Cameron and at Colter’s beautifully restored masterpiece: La Posada in Winslow); a full day at the Grand Canyon; an array of knowledgeable local guides and historians and much more.






Designing the West - May 2–6, 2011

Single occupancy private rooms are available .

Some of Baja's Frontier Tours' most special and unique learning vacations are produced for members of Tucson's Tohono Chul Park, a non-profit botanical garden and art museum (with a gift shop and very pleasant restaurant, by the way). The Park's mission is to enrich people's lives by providing them the opportunity to find peace and inspiration in a place of beauty, to experience the wonders of the Sonoran Desert, and to gain knowledge of the natural and cultural heritage of this region. Whenever you're in Tucson, plan an extended visit to the Park to learn more about it's mission and to further appreciate our Sonoran Desert.

It's easy to become a member...   



Our brochure with more details of this trip is yours for the asking. Call Mary & Piet Van de Mark today.

We produce this learning vacation personally and look forward to answering your questions.

We're pleased to speak with you to discuss your interests and what we have to offer you.

520-887-2340 (Tucson, Arizona)

Please call or email to make your reservations in advance. Space is limited.

Mary & Piet Van de Mark - 520-887-2340 in Tucson

©Baja's Frontier Tours LLC Tucson, Arizona 2010

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