Cochise Hotel
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1919 to 1958 The years of the Skinner family and the Cochise Hotel.

 
 

The Skinner family owned the Cochise Hotel from 1919 to 1958, nearly forty years.

Ma Skinner stands in the middle

Ma Skinner served a meal fit for a king.  Matt Lee didn't exactly smack his lips when he spoke of food served many years ago at the old Cochise Hotel, be he remembers that Mrs. Skinner bought the best of everything for her table.  Lee, was a miner at the Johnson camp back about 1914.  He looked forward to weekends when he would go to town and stay at the hotel.  In its heyday, the old hotel was one of the best of its kind in Southern Arizona, serving the miners and others who toiled at the settlements at Russellville, Gleason, Courtland and Pearce.  Cattle from the range, en route to market, were driven into the railroad yard pens across the street from the hotel, and ranchers also used the hotel as headquarters while in town.

Tucson Daily Citizen, June 6th, 1964 by Margaret Kuehlthau

The original Rath building had a lobby, Wells Fargo office, 10 rooms and an outhouse in the back.  The cinder wall or false front was added along with a large new wing which included porches on front and back, a kitchen and great room.  One water closet was added which finally brought indoor plumbing.

Ma Skinner stands next to a big snow man on the side yard of the Hotel.  In the back ground is the water shed (still standing) and a top the water storage tank.  To the left the windmill. On the right of this photograph is the long row of out buildings.  In the foreground is a shed row of 5 rooms.  This building was originally erected a short way down the tracks to house the rail road workers.  It was then moved on to the Hotel property.  Behind the row is an apartment which housed the manager of the Hotel.  Behind the apartment was a shack which held the Colt manufactured acetylene generator which serviced the Hotel with gas light and heat. (That generator can still be seen.)  Between the shed row and the apartment was the laundry.

                                             

Although the laundry has no photographs from those days it still survives as a museum.  Mr. Rath's well was the only water for miles.  It serviced his Hotel and the Railroad.  It also created the laundry.  Women from miles around would bring their baskets of clothes and sit in the shack lined with benches all around.  In the middle was a large forge type fireplace that had compartments for two wash buckets.  The water was heated and by using paddle size forks the clothes were agitated in the soapy water.  Then scraped across a wash board and hung up to dry.  I can imagine the tales that must have been told when the ladies got together at the Cochise Hotel and Waterworks.

      The Laundry as it stands today

At the back of the Cochise Hotel lot stood a small false front building which served as a saddle makers shop for many years.  In this photo it has been converted to a gift shop and a full slump block building has been added to the back.

Looking straight down Rath Avenue to the Red Bird mountain.  

X marks the location of the Red Bird mine.

           

Mining the mountains of Southeastern Arizona is deeply rooted in it's history.  As new mining techniques were intended whole new enterprises transpired at mines abandoned and brought back to life.  Still today large mining operations are active in Cochise County. 

There were 39 students during the 1908-09 school year in Cochise and by 1910 the enrollment jumped to 67.  Until 1911 there was still only one teacher when a second teacher was added.  By 1916 a third teacher was added with a class of 92 students. By 1912 the official school building was built along with the Methodist Church.

The Ringling Brothers circus performed in Douglas in 1909 and Buffalo Bill brought his troop to Bisbee and Douglas on October 26 and 27th 1910. It is likely the Cochise Hotel saw customers from these two troops as the Cochise Station would have been the railroad stop to transfer trains headed south to Douglas.

February 14th 1912 Arizona was accepted into the Union. 

       

During Governor Hunt's reign at the head of Arizona he organized a motor parade that went though Texas Canyon and camped for the night at the Cochise Hotel.

                

When Ma Skinner (left) passed, the Cochise Hotel remained in the family and was taken over by her daughter Fern Moore (right).  By the end of WWII there was not that much left of Cochise.  Still the stockyards stood between Front Street and the tracks but business was poor.  The saloon had closed and the Cochise Hotel was beginning to show her age.