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Lost Apple Project

Contact David:

If you have an old apple tree whose variety is unknown and that you think may qualify for the Lost Apple Project contact apple detective David Benscoter. The project seeks to identify and preserve apple varieties in Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho, and Oregon that were once thought to be extinct. Benscoter and his volunteers have found over 29 such apple varieties since he discovered the "Nero" growing on Steptoe Butte in 2015. He estimates that over 17,000 named varieties of apples once grew in North America, of which approximately 4,500 survive today. Newly grafted apple trees (both heritage varieties and re-discovered varieties), as well as grafting wood are for sale and can be pre-ordered. The cost is $30 per tree for WCHS members and $35 for non-members.


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St. Ignatius was built in 1893 by the Sisters of Charity (now the Sisters of Providence).

The building was a hospital until 1968. It was beginning to show its age and the sisters didn't have the resources to renovate again. Roy McDonald purchased the building and in 1970 open it up as St. Ignatius Manor. This facility housed elderly and developmentally disabled adults until 2003 when it was abandoned. It sat empty for years, until the Colfax Chamber of Commerce stepped in to try and find a new owner who would save this historic building. In 2015, St. Ignatius was named the number one most endangered building in Washington State. The Chamber of Commerce started tours and ghosts hunts to try to entice someone to buy the building. The tours got the hospital on National TV shows and brought attention and the importance of saving it. In 2021, Austin and Laura Storm stepped up to purchase and save the building. The Historical Society jumped on board to assist in the preservation of this historic building. The project will eventually become a 501c3, but for now it is considered a project of the WCHS. 

Cashup Davis Exhibit

In 1880, Palouse homesteader James “Cashup” Davis first hiked to the butte’s summit where he looked over the immense landscape and contemplated the construction of a grand hotel. In the spring of 1888 a primitive road was built, corkscrewing around the butte’s circumference. Teams of horses hauled thousands of feet of lumber, along with construction equipment, up this crudely made mountain trail every day. Davis’ two-story structure was completed and opened its doors to guests on July 4, 1888. The Cashup Hotel could room up to fifty visitors and even contained an observatory above the second floor where a telescope gave guests a majestic view of the Palouse landscape.

Davis’ hotel project would prove short lived. The novelty wore off after few years of popularity.Even road-weary travelers found the Cashup Hotel’s location to be too inconvenient. Another problem was the lack of water on the butte--water had to be hauled up the butte everyday by horse teams. James “Cashup” Davis passed away in his hotel in 1896 at the age of 81. The hotel closed its doors forever in 1902.

In 1911, the structure was destroyed due to an accidental fire started by some careless young boys smoking cigarettes and what remained of the structure was subsequently removed. In 1946, local conservationist Virgil McCroskey donated the land to the State of Washington for preservation purposes. Steptoe State Park is now located at the very same spot where the Cashup Hotel once looked over the Palouse in all its majestic glory.

The Whitman County Historical Society has a new project! We are thrilled to announce that the Cashup Davis Exhibit located in the Center at the Colfax Library. On display are the telescope from the Steptoe Butte Hotel that once sat near the top of the Butte. Cashups top hat and sword. And the wonderful story of one of the first pioneers that came to the Palouse Country. There is an electronic display that shows pictures of the hotel and Cashup Davis. A huge thank you to the Davis Family, WSU and the Library for helping us make this happen. Be sure to check out the Library website for hours of operation and stop in to see the exhibit.  


Fix a

Contact James to get a clock fixed:

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Whitman County Historical Society’s local Clockmaker fixes clocks for Cashup Davis Fund.

Jim Martin’s interest in Clocks and Watches has spanned over 50 years now. He started his interest at age 10 when his dad would give him his Great Grandfather’s railroad pocket watch to hold up to his ear and listen to it tick. 

By age 20 Jim had purchased a complete set of watchmaker’s equipment from a former watchmaker. Right out of high school he signed up for a watch and clock program in his hometown of Spokane, WA. He has been repairing watches and clocks ever since. Jim says” I found my niche early in life and have never been able to kick the habit.”

When he has not been keeping people on time, Jim has pursued many other avocations, from working at Boeing as an Aircraft Inspector, building custom picture frames and cabinets to restoring antiques.  “I love antiques especially from the Victorian era”.

Jim’s current ventures include restoring vintage photos and clocks for Whitman County Historical Society members in return for a donation to the Cashup Davis Fund. He has rescued several clocks that are now on display and right on time at the Perkins House Museum in Colfax, WA.

In his shop a variety of clocks are brought in for repair. "People around my age or older have antique clocks. Younger people enjoy the big round clocks that are 3 or 4 feet across, "Then there are plenty of cuckoo, and novelty clocks that need help”.

Jim fabricates parts he cannot find. "If I need a part for an 1885 clock, I can't go down to my friend Dave at Ace Hardware and get them." “While clocks tick quietly away on the wall or shelf, eventually they need some work”.

"People don't think about it, but if your car ran 24 hours a day for 10 or 15 years, you'd think, ‘Boy, that ran a long time.’ Clocks wear out, too."

"The fascinating thing for me is to take a clock that is dead in the water and revive it to keep time again," says Jim. "It has been very satisfying for me having worked with clocks for over 50 years. I look forward working on clocks every chance I get."

Cashup Davis is Jim’s Great-Great Grandfather.  A new Cashup Davis Exhibit is in the making at the Colfax, WA Library and Jim is doing his part, fixing clocks for donations to The Cashup Davis fund.

“It’s a win-win situation, they get their clock fixed and the Historical Society gets needed funds for the Cashup Display”.

Jim's work on these vintage clocks can be seen here:   Clock Repair Videos

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