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The Inn, The Stage, And the Wild, Wild West

Okay, you’ll recall that I’m in the middle of one of my infamous series. This one deals with a trip we recently took to the little town of Salado, which is about a 30 minute drive to the north of us.

Last time I had just talked about how the town *should* have died around 1950. There wasn’t any economic reason for it to exist. Yet, it survived, and became a popular tourist destination crammed with speciality shops and art galleries.

Like is that possible?

The answer seems to have boiled down to a couple of factors. One was a population that was determined their town just wouldn’t die. The other was a number of rather talented and insightful entrepreneurs who managed to create successful tourist-oriented businesses here when no one would have thought such a thing was possible.

About the photo: Once more, nothing to do with the story. But this is Martha when we were staying in Santa Fe in 2017. We were at a wonderful little hotel that had a patio off the back of our room. It was a great place for breakfast, coffee, and reading.

For remember I said that Salado was on the stagecoach line way back in the 1860s-1880s? Well, the people on the stages needed a place to stay at night so local folk started The Shady Villa Inn Hotel in 1852. Somehow, the Villa survived until the 1943 when it was purchased by Dion and Ruth Van Bibber who renamed it “The Stage Coach Inn,” and began promoting it as a throwback to Ye Olde West. was a hit. People came from all over to stay where “real cowboys” slept back in the days when Men Were Real Men, Women Were Real Women, and John Wayne was... well, whoever he was supposed to be in a movie that week. (I say that facetiously but there’s some truth in it. The 1940s-1950s were sort of the golden age of the movie western. I’m guessing that fact helped the Stage Coach Inn achieve success.)

In any case, the Stage Coach Inn did quite well. In fact, it helped keep the town alive, and, without it, I don’t know if Salado would still exist. (For more on the Stage Coach Inn, go here:

However, in recent years, the Inn encountered some problems and, in 2021 or there’s about, it was taken over by Bunkhouse, which is an Austin-based company that builds and manages hotels, usually rather upscale ones. They’re re-renamed the Inn “The Shady Villa Hotel,” and are, apparently, doing well by the property.

I’ve not been there, yet. But I’ve heard good things about the restaurant. Maybe, one of these days, we’ll do an overnight. (For more on the Shady Villa, go here:

Okay, so that was one example of an entrepreneurial business that managed to survive in spite of everything, and keep the town off life support...

But there was another. You’ll recall that I hinted that there was a particular individual of whom Saladoians are uniquely proud -- a woman who combined airplanes, war, and high fashion, all in one amazing life.

And I’ll get to her next time.

More to come.

Copyright©2022 Michael Jay Tucker


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