Enamored by the western frontier, British immigrant Cashup Davis, his wife Mary, and eleven children became one of the first white families to settle on the Palouse’s spectacular rolling hills in eastern Washington Territory. Living at first in a simple sod house, they turn their bunchgrass acreage into a farm, befriend Native Americans during a war ignited by the U.S. government’s treaty violations, and eventually open an immensely popular and prosperous stagecoach stop. But Cashup has another dream: he is resolutely determined to build a grand luxury hotel on one of the region’s highest points, the summit of Steptoe Butte. People tell him it is a ridiculous idea, but Cashup never listens to the doubters. He’s brash, confident, and full of charisma.
The story is told through the eyes of his great-grandson, Gordy Davis, who views Cashup as the “secret mentor” he never met. As Gordy has achieved success in his life and turned to philanthropy, he has sought to better understand his own good fortune by delving into his great-grandfather’s astonishing past. Cashup’s life prompts questions that are still relevant today: What is real success? Does it blind people to other joys in life? How should people balance risk and reward?
Cashup’s hotel opened on July 4, 1888, and he became one of Washington’s first national celebrities. But no one—especially Gordy—expected what happened next.
An accomplished investigative journalist and communicator, Jeff Burnside is also working on a documentary film that tells the Cashup Davis story. He has been honored by top national institutions such as Investigative Reporters and Editors, and The National Press Club. A past president of the Society of Environmental Journalists, his work and philanthropy have received more than 25 national, regional, and local awards, including 10 Emmys and 26 Emmy nominations.
Gordon W. Davis, Ph.D., founded CEV Multimedia in 1984. Six years later, he left a successful academic career to bring experts into American classrooms through video, multimedia textbooks, and ultimately online delivery. CEV has reached an estimated 100 million students globally with Career and Technology Education curriculum. Gordon grew up on wheat and dairy farms near Deer Park, Washington, and attributes much of his success to the work ethic his parents instilled. He is passionate about philanthropy, and after selling the company in late 2021, he shifted his focus to helping others as much as possible.
“James ‘Cashup’ Davis had ‘no interest in mediocrity,’ and neither do the authors of this book. Anyone who has seen Steptoe Butte will appreciate the drive (or perhaps hubris!) of the man who built a hotel at the top.”—Elizabeth S. Chilton, Provost and Professor of Anthropology, Washington State University
“It’s not easy to capture the full measure of one’s life, but the authors have done just that in writing this book”—Lawrence Schovanec, President, Texas Tech University
“A firsthand account of how to be an achiever against incredible obstacles… gritty and tough, just like they like it in the eastern Washington Palouse…You will be inspired.”— Mike Leach, head football coach, Mississippi State University, former head football coach, Washington State University, bestselling author, Swing Your Sword, Geronimo, and Sports for Dorks: Football
“This remarkable story is destined to make Cashup Davis become a fan favorite.”—Gerald Posner, author of PHARMA and Case Closed, and Trisha Posner, author of The Pharmacist of Auschwitz
“Cashup Davis was a tireless visionary, one of those Western pioneers whose unbounded energy helped build a nation. His life story is a tale of castles in the air and of real, stirring achievement.”—David Baron, author of American Eclipse and The Beast in the Garden
“What a story! With lucid writing and illuminating detail culled from historical and family documents, they tell a compelling story as unusual as their subject’s name.”—Tom Yulsman, Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder
“The life of Cashup Davis—pioneer, dreamer, big thinker, risk taker, and entrepreneur—whose actions and mindset influenced his great-grandson and surely will influence you.”—Dr. Kevin R. Pond, Dean of the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, West Texas A&M University
“We loved it! At a time when the world can use an inspirational story, along comes an uplifting winner in the little-known story of Cashup Davis.”—Gerald Posner, author of PHARMA and Case Closed, and Trisha Posner, author of The Pharmacist of Auschwitz
“I know how hard it is to be an entrepreneur, overcoming obstacles and chasing your dreams. I see the same thing in Cashup. It’s a page turner.”—Rob Angel, creator of Pictionary, author of Game Changer