At 3,612 feet Steptoe Butte is the unique observatory from which to delight in the real art of the Palouse: how prosperous farms mark its rolling hills. Cashup Davis was the Steptoe farmer-promoter most identified with the quartzite butte. Cashup always gave cash for the goods he needed to stock his popular stagecoach stop on the eastern slope of the butte. The English immigrant wed Mary Shoemaker of Columbus Ohio, and before they moved west in 1871 the couple raised eleven children in Wisconsin. Once settled into serving stagecoaches in the Palouse the family became known for its hospitality and the dance floor above the store. When the railroads arrived nearby in 1883 the stages stopped running and Cashup looked to Steptoe Butte to further his conviviality. After building a switchback road to the top he raised the two-story hotel shown here in 1888. The glass observatory on top held a powerful telescope that could look into four states.
As spectacular as it surely was, the hotel was also hard for man and beast to reach and its early popularity soon fell off. And the rolling Palouse was crowded with wheat not people. Mary Ann died in 1894 and, alone in his hotel, Cashup two years later. His instruction that he be buried in a hole he’d dug for himself beside the hotel was not followed. However, his internment in the Steptoe Cemetery was a grand affair and the procession following an ornate hearse brought south from Oaksdale was also impressive. Cashup’s hotel can be seen at the top although not so vividly as on the night of March 15, 1908, when it was destroyed by fire.
8 thoughts on “Our Daily Sykes #125 – Cashup Davis & His Steptoe Butte Hotel”
Thanks for posting this, Paul. What a great little piece of local history/geography/geology. I didn’t know about this place. The foundation stone really makes the shot. Judging from comparison’s with the online 3D map tools available, I put the hearse photo along Shahan Road. On my next adventure to the Palouse I’m visiting Cashup’s place!
How do I find out additional information on Cashup. I am a distant relative of his and I how the original picture of mary Anne davis that matches the one of cashup. Where are his artifacts located. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Any help you can provide would be appreciated.
Oh, I just relooked and saw how extensive Shahan Road is. Of course Shahan Road. Specifically, I think the location of the photo is Shahan Road just oustide town, near the intersection with Sholz Road.
It is just below (east) of the Steptoe cemetery. The photographer may have been standing in the road that climbed up to the cemetery. That last pix put up shows Cashup’s monument in the cemetery with another glimpse of the butte on the horizon.
Ah, right. I’m just now catching up with the fine print in your Now/Then piece. That jibes with my reckoning, as the cemetery looks to be just before Shahan meets Sholz. Is that 1940s shot south from the top one of Sykes’?
All right,I’m just now catching up with your reply. Yes that is a Sykes shot, and most likely post-war, for – if I have been told the truth – the winding road to the top was built soon after WW2. I rode to the top in the late 1940s with my dad at the wheel.
I notice that in aerial data on Google Maps and Bing you can see the old faint markings of the switchback road, which seems to have gone up one side of the hill instead of spiraling around it.
Yup I noticed that as well. My notes say that Cashup Davis built that to then build his hotel – and get to it.