Cash for the Nellie Cashman

It ain’t easy to maintain a historic landmark. Just ask the Skinners of Tombstone, Arizona.

They own the Nellie Cashman Restaurant, the oldest eatery in town, started in 1879 by the lady of the same name. Nellie actually called it the Russ House. But by whatever name, or whatever purpose (it’s been a boarding house and a retail shop), the adobe building is a Tombstone fixture; a certain romance surrounds this place that hosted the Earps and the Clantons.

Sherri Skinner says, “The challenge is to keep things up, replace certain things, maintain the historical look and character while also keeping in your budget as a small business.”

The place could use a new roof—$20,000. The interior setup isn’t exactly the way it was back in Nellie’s day (although the walls, floors, beams and basement are all original). That all costs money that the Skinners don’t have.

So they’re looking to sell it. The current price is $375,000, down about 40 percent from the original figure. New owners could keep the restaurant or use the building for other purposes—including a residence.

Until someone comes in and puts his name on the dotted line, Sherri Skinner and her family will be faced with a tough challenge—maintaining an historic landmark while trying to run a business.



Photos from Frontier Times

J. Marvin Hunter was the founding publisher and editor of Frontier Times, a magazine of Texas history celebrating its 85th anniversary this month.

Ten years after he started the magazine, Hunter began archiving his collection of photos, documents and artifacts into the Frontier Times Museum in Bandera, Texas. Next month, a Texas Historical Marker will be placed at the site.

Not all of Hunter’s collection goes into the museum. A few months ago, his grandson, Ray Marvin Hay, rediscovered a treasure trove of photographs, some of which date back to the 1860s. He found cabinet photos of San Antonio Mexicans and Latinos, unique shots of San Antonio saloons and many of the Alamo.

In June, those photos were donated to the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, where they’ll be available for researchers, historians and scholars.

Some of the photos deal with the magazine and Bandera. Those will stay at the Frontier Times Museum.


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A Sinking Queen?

The last of the great American wooden paddlewheelers has hit troubled waters.

The Delta Queen, built in 1927, first sailed the river waters of California. In recent years, it’s carried passengers along the Mississippi, the Ohio and other rivers in the Midwest. The ship’s bell came from the steamboat that Mark Twain rode on in 1883 while researching Life On the Mississippi.

The boat carries an 1897 steam calliope salvaged from a sunken showboat. It glistens with teak wood, original Tiffany-style stained glass windows and a rare ironwood floor.  More than 170 voyagers enjoy a bit of the past on each Delta Queen voyage.

Politics may scuttle this national landmark. In the 1960s, federal guidelines passed for wooden ships addressed the danger of fire. For years, the Delta Queen got an almost automatic exemption, courtesy of Congress.

But in 2006, new ownership tossed out the union that represented the crew. In retaliation, House Democrats blocked the exemption. Congressional Republicans are working with grassroots groups to reinstate the exemption. Unless something changes, it will stop sailing in November.

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Telluride Update

By the time you read this, Telluride, Colorado, will have taken possession of a valley in the San Miguel Mountains.

That’s because in June, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Telluride has the power to  “condemn” more than 570 acres in the valley.

A defense contractor purchased the land in 1983, intending to develop it. Last year, local residents (including a number of Hollywood glitterati such as actress Daryl Hannah and eBay founder Meg Whitman) raised $25.5 million to help reimburse the landowner; total cost: $50 million. The effort was spearheaded by Valley Floor Preservation Partners.

The next step—in addition to raising more money—is to  develop a comprehensive plan for preserving and using the valley.

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