The city of Slaton has historic ties to the railroad. For decades the site was ranchland until the Santa Fe Railway sought a location for a division point to service trains. The Santa Fe bought the land in April 1911, naming the townsite for rancher and banker O.L. Slaton. Passenger and freight service became central to the economy, and the company built a passenger depot and Harvey House the following year. Scottish immigrant Fred Harvey created the Harvey House chain in 1876, partnering with the Santa Fe Railway, which built the restaurants and provided space on their trains for food and supplies. Harvey provided the equipment, management and hospitality staff, including hostesses known as Harvey Girls.Recorded Texas Historical Landmark - 2007
The Slaton Harvey House served efficient but elegant meals to 42 passengers at a time around a horseshoe-shaped counter on the first floor, which also house the kitchen, bakery, gift shop and manager's office. The manager and his family and the Harvey Girls roomed on the second floor. The Slaton Harvey House, a commercial and social center, operated for thirty years, briefly reopening to serve troops during World War II. The building remained a passenger depot until 1969; the railroad later converted it to a freight depot and operations center before vacating the property in the 1980s. Slaton citizens coordinated the preservation and restoration of their landmark building.
The two-story Mission Revival Slaton Harvey House features one-foot thick concrete walls, an arcaded trackside pavilion with stepped parapet, overhanging eaves with brackets, divided light windows and a flat upper story parapet decorated with the Santa Fe Railway company symbol.