Retreat to Monte Ne

Harvey's Retreat from Politics

During the election of 1896, Harvey traveled the nation campaigning for William Jennings Bryan. But the Free Silver candidate lost to William McKinley.

The Democratic Party reacted to the defeat by abandoning the Free Silver cause in 1899. Discouraged by Bryan’s defeat and disillusioned by the Democratic Party’s abandonment of Free Silver, Harvey decided to quit politics.

Harvey Goes to Rogers

One of the places that Harvey had visited during the 1896 campaign was Northwest Arkansas. In 1900 he returned. On arriving in Rogers, Harvey told the Rogers Democrat that he had chosen Northwest Arkansas to make a new start because it had no large cities nor any really rich people. Harvey purchased over 300 acres around a large spring southeast of Rogers.

Beautiful Monte Ne

Harvey changed the name of the community from Silver Springs to Monte Ne (which he said was Spanish and Native American for “mountain water”), and began to create a luxurious resort. In May of 1901 the first hotel opened and Harvey commissioned a song, “Beautiful Monte Ne,” to promote the resort.

Soon Hotel Monte Ne, with its ballroom, was joined by an indoor swimming pool and a 2-story theater with a bowling alley and meeting room. Harvey even built a lagoon and a series of canals in front of the hotel and imported a gondola from Italy. In 1902 he built a railroad spur from the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad line to Monte Ne and began to bill the resort as the “only place in America where a gondola meets the trains.”

Family During a Thriving Resort

But while his resort was thriving, Harvey’s personal life was not. For a decade Harvey had lived apart from his family and quarreled with his wife Anna by post about money and the lack of a permanent family home.

Although he planned to continue to live on his own, he established a home for Anna at Monte Ne. After that house burned in 1902, Anna and their daughters returned to Chicago. It seems she never returned to Monte Ne again except for the funeral of their son Hal, who was killed in a railroad accident in 1903.

Hal’s death was probably the greatest tragedy of Harvey’s life. He built a concrete mausoleum near the lagoon at Monte Ne for his son’s remains. Then he returned to developing his resort.