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Roy Rogers Museum fails after moving from Route 66 January 15, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Museums, People.
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San Bernardino County Sun features editor John Weeks reports that the Roy Rogers Museum, less than six years after it picked up and moved from its longtime Route 66 home in Victorville, Calif., has shut down in Branson, Mo., and all of its memorabilia will be auctioned in the coming weeks.

Weeks writes:

What a shame. Victorville, in San Bernardino County’s High Desert, was the right home for it. It was an authentic Western setting for a Western-themed museum. It was right on old Route 66, an appropriately nostalgic location for an exhibit hall devoted to nostalgia.

Most importantly, it’s where Rogers and Evans built it, near their own home in Apple Valley. That’s the community they chose for their retirement, after their long careers as stars of hundreds of TV and movie Westerns during the ’40s and ’50s. That’s the community where they lived, where they died, and where they are buried.

If you’re a tad too young to know, Roy Rogers was known as the “King of the Cowboys,” and his wife, Dale Evans, was called “Queen of the West.” More about them can be read here.

Weeks is advocating that Southern California residents buy up as much Roy Rogers artifacts as possible and move them to one of the area museums, including the Route 66 museum in Victorville. “Sadly, we can’t get the whole museum back. But a few choice pieces of it might be nice,” Weeks writes.

The first auction Roy Rogers items will be conducted by High Noon Western Americana. More about the first auction can be found here. More auction dates can be found halfway down the page at the main Roy Rogers site.

Comments»

1. Michael Bates - January 17, 2010

It’s very sad. In Branson, the museum was just one more attraction you didn’t have time to see; the High Desert was where it belonged.

Bruce Hursey - July 13, 2011

You are right…it should never have been moved. I can only
assume the owners/managers of it saw an opertunity to make
bigger bucks in Branston……..Wrong ! Back in the ’60s I was
assigned to NASA’s Goldstone Tracking Station and lived in
Barstow. We went to Apple Valley quite often as our pedia-
trision was from there. Quite often we would stop at the museum
to grab lunch or at least a coke or cup of coffee. More often
than not, Roy would be in the resturant just talking to the customers. He was a religious person and for quite a spell,
he and Dale had over 10 foster kids out at the ranch. One day
he had them on some church bus going some place…….and
the bus ran off a cliff…..killing all his kids. Roy was never the
same after that. The museum moved to Branson….without Roy.
I always had respect for that man…….not only as “movie
cowboy”…..but as a person.

Lew - May 5, 2012

Roy Rogers JUNIOR had a run-in with the city of Victorville, so he moved to Branson.
The original museum was in a former bowling alley across the street from the Apple Valley Inn.
Roy spent many an hour at the barber shop (at the inn) shooting the breeze about hunting as the owner and most patrons were gun nuts. Roy spent some time at the Kalin Ranch( now Spring Valley Lake hunting coyotes and birds.

Ron Hansen - January 22, 2012

Branson has nothing to do with the old cowboy era, it more catered to the glitzy rhinestone and Donny and Marie crowd. This is the crowd that thinks Nashville and Missouri are part of the wild west. Sad but true the museum never had a chance in Branson. Our hearts all sank when they took the museum away from Roy’s fans and sold it to the highest bidder.

2. Tonya PIke - January 20, 2010

Weeks needs to do a bit more research. The move to Branson was the brainchild of Dale and Roy. They’d seen nothing but dwindling numbers in Victorville for years and felt the family environment of Branson was a better place to be. From what I understand from Dusty Rogers, Dale was involved in picking the place in Branson but unfortunately, did not live long enough to see it built.

What killed the museum was the rent. The Rogers Family Trust made the decision to let a third party build their theater and they paid an astronomical rent every month. The Rogers family has openly told everyone that they plan to stay in Branson and I believe Dusty has already found a new home for his show. But the Museum and Roy Rogers Collection as we know it will be no more. It’s sad not only for the Rogers family and the legacy of Roy and Dale, but it leaves one more blighted building in a place where they have literally “paved over paradise.” Very sad and tragic indeed.

3. Anonymous - January 24, 2010

I CANNOTY BELIEVE DUSTY; YOU ARE LETTING THIS HAPPEN! I GREW UP WATCHING YOUR DAD EVERY SATURDAY, YOU ART TO BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF FOR LETTING THIS HAPPEN. YOUR DADA IS WATCHING EVERY MOVE YOU MAKE.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4. Tonya Pike - January 31, 2010

To Anonymous:

It was not Dusty alone that let this happen. He was the headliner of the program that played in the theater’s auditorium. The Rogers Family Trust, which is a organization comprised of all the surviving Rogers children and their families was who was in control of the entire place. You cannot blame one person alone for what happened. It was bad decisions by a large group of family descendents, and they are as much a victim of this unstable economic time we live in as anything else. And yes, I’m sure Roy and Dale would be quite disappointed. My question would be, if you watched the program every Saturday, did you continue to be a member of the Roy Rogers Riders Club into adulthood? They did their best to prevent this but it just couldn’t be stopped.

5. D.Cloud - February 2, 2010

I’m shocked, as well as saddened and feel like I’ve lost Roy and Dale all over again. I’m so glad my husband and I got to see the museum in Branson and were able to make many pictures of the life and times of the King of the Cowboys and Queen of the West. It’s so sad, but this is a sign of the times where people want all this electronic junk to entertain them. So glad I grew up in a time where we still played cowboys and indians and our imaginations were the big thing and not how fast we could push buttons on some piece of plastic for entertainment. Unfortunately, without the interest being kept alive for Route 66 by all the roadies out there, it too could go the way of the Roy and Dale museum. It’s unbelieveable that kids of today won’t ever know about Roy and Dale and all the goods times on Saturday mornings at the movies, the good guys beating the bad ones and oh the music. The singing cowboys were grand! I still can’t believe this extensive museum depicting the lives of two of the greatest western heros Roy and Dale(not to mention Pat Brady, Gabby Hays, Nelly Bell, Bullet, Buttermilk and let’s not forget Trigger, is going by the wayside. It’s as though they will be no more, only in our memories.

6. CoinOpRides - February 13, 2010

Own a piece of History

An original Trigger Horse Coin Operated Ride

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=250575818867&ssPageName=ADME:X:AAQ:US:1123

7. Randy - February 16, 2010

Saw the museum while on temporary duty at George Air Force Base in Victorville CA. I am glad I got to enjoy the memories while I saw it. That was about 1978 or sometime around that. It was grand seeing the things that were seen in movies.

Unfortunately, the population is aging, the fans are now senior citizens and the state of the economy makes it difficult to travel.

I am hoping that someone like Turner Classic Movie Channel will do a month long special on the stars of the west like Roy & Dale, Gene Autry, and others.

8. Susan M - February 23, 2010

My husband and I passed through Victorville in 1990. We saw the sign for the museum but kept on going. Big mistake!! But we did get to see the museum in Branson in 2005. Worth the wait!

I was sorry to hear that the museum had closed. So much memorabilia and history. If everything is going to auctioned off, what will happen to Trigger, Buttermilk and Bullet . . .

9. Dr. Don Maddox - April 12, 2010

I had the honor of being a pastor to Roy & Dale in their last years at Apple Valley. Roy was indeed my boyhood hero & I fell in love w/ Dale when we were together in Apple Valley. I visited the museum in Apple Valley a number of times & remember fondly Roy still greeting visitors and Dale shoot her TV program there as well.
Moving to Branson I thought was a good move. So many of us older folks visit Branson, but I guess it just didn’t hold up. They will never be forgotten. They made my time in Apple Valley a dream come true.

10. kerry brown - April 20, 2010

As millions of other young boys growing up in rural america in 50′s an 60′s I wanted to be just like roy rogers!! He was my HERO for years and really still is in a way since we are both brothers of a masonic lodge!!

11. Louis Even - May 31, 2010

I thought that Roy, Dale and the SOTP’s created something back in the 1950′s called ‘Pioneer Town’ near Victorville. Did that get destroyed too? Why can’t people just let good things be ? They always have to tinker with stuff till it’s ruined.

12. Mike Bradbury - June 6, 2010

I grew up watching Roy every Saturday morning. In 1986, I met him in his museum when it was still in Victorville. Had my photo taken with him, and that photo now highlites my Roy Rogers collection in my den, among the guitar, cap pistols, bunk house and other neat things..

Talking with Roy was like talking to your next door neighbor. He was the role model that OUR kids and grandkids do not have.

This was a magical time, along with NEHI Orange, ’57 Chevys and Wolfman Jack———–it’ll never come again

13. Carol Perry - June 12, 2010

I am so sad to hear about the museum. I actually did not know it had moved and was going to drive out of my way this Sept. to see it again.
Very glad I made an internet search.

In the middle 90′s or so,I was driving by and almost went by. But thank heavens I turned around. It was the best museum ever! I remember that the pictures on the wall,went by the dates,so it was like history being told on the walls. Trigger was another memory.

I remember it was closing and I stayed at a motel up the hill and came back the next morning because they told me Roy always tried to come,he was getting older now and sometimes did not make it.
Thank heavens he did that day. I did not approch him,but stood aside and watched him until he left, interact with the volunteers etc.

Oh I am so glad to have these memories and sad I can not share them this Sept.

14. mitch singer - June 15, 2010

It is a terrible to let this go i cannot believe the smithsonian did not take trigger buttermilk or bullet . Roy and Dale wereand are American icons the type we need today and do not have. Maybe some organization like Disney or Universal should set up there i mean you now have Harry Potter exhibits. To let this go is to lose part of an era that we will never see again.

15. Ki Ki - July 1, 2010

I too, am deeply saddened. Roy Rogers has always been my hero. It was a mistake to move the museum in the first place. I hope someone will have what it takes to restore it to the public again.
It’s too bad there are no real “heroes” like Roy and Dale for kids today to look up to and emulate.
Sad, sad, sad, soooo sad.

16. catcher - July 9, 2010

Back around 1980 I was in Manhattan, in Rockefeller Center, walking down the street where the RCA (now the GE) Building is. It was around 5 p.m., and the sidewalk was getting pretty crowded. Then, all of a sudden, Roy Rogers walked out of the RCA Building, impeccably dressed in a tailored suit with a Western flavor, and with a cowboy hat. Everybody stopped. Jaws dropped. I remember one woman’s eyes going very wide. And then everybody was smiling and happy, all those jaded Baby Boomer New Yorkers. Everybody went up to Roy and tried to say something to him. Dozens of people, there on the sidewalk. Roy couldn’t have been nicer to them, and he spent a moment or two with them before he got into the car that was waiting for him. I will always remember him, and all of them, for that moment. Roy Rogers, the greatest cowboy of them all.

17. John A. Lutz - July 10, 2010

I too, remember watching Roy & Dale on early Saturday TV in the 1950s.. Other favorite Cowboys were Gene Autry riding Champion on Saturday evenings at 7PM sponsored by Wigley’s Doublemint Chewing gum, which I still chew today.
My real hero then was William Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy. A photo of him riding Topper sent to me in 1953 sits over my head as I write this message.
We need more heros like Roy, Dale, Gene, Tex & Hoppy today & not the rock crap garbage TV & Radio Station broadcast today.
I was extremely sorry to hear Trigger & Bullet were up for sale & their museum was no more…I bet Roy & Dale have turned over a few times with tears in their eyes….this is yet another example of greedy family relatives wanting more money & leavng the western atmosphere of Victorville for a rock-music setting that totally fails.

Ron - July 10, 2010

John, if you think an old-time country town like Branson is a rock-music setting, you obviously have never been there.

John A. Lutz - July 17, 2010

Branson is NOT a traditional country music town…its primary theme was & continues to be rock, crock & crap when my wife & I visited it in 1998. After finding out the overnite prices of hotels & motels, we decided to get the H— out of that rocking town for a real country town.
I’d never go back to Branson & all its crock & crap.

Ron - July 17, 2010

Anyone who thinks that Branson is a rock’n’roll town has very bizarre notions of music and is obviously ignorant of that town’s very long history as a country music Mecca.

18. Bob Rathbun - July 12, 2010

We also had the pleasure of a breif encounter with Roy at the victorville museum. in 1993 we stopped by and were delighted to meet the hero of my boyhood. He took a few minutes with us and we talked about our mutal love of hunting and firearms.
very sorry to think that trigger will be in some place by himself.
so sad a turn of events.

19. Frank - July 12, 2010

I’m going to New York tomorrow (7/14) to see the preview of the RRDE auction. I never did get to see either museum, so this may be my only chance to see Trigger, Buttermilk, etc.

The world was a far better place when Roy and Dale were here, but thank goodness we can still hear and see them if only electronically.

20. Joyce Jackson - July 17, 2010

In 1990, my husband and I had visited my sister in Portland, Or. We were in a motor home and had planned to go on to British Columbia, but the temperature dropped into the 20s in BC and instead we headed south through CA on our way home to TX As a surprise to me, my husband had routed us through Victorville and we spent a few hours at the Roy Rogers Museum. It was dream come true for me and a nice surprise for my husband, for he got to see what a hunter/sportsman Roy was. What a thrill it was to walk close to Trigger and Nelly Belle and see all the things Roy had saved through the years to put in a museum. What a wonderful thing to do for all us fans. I know from past articles written by Dusty that the family has struggled with the taxes and high cost of running the museum, so I say “Thank you” family. We cry with you over this closing.

21. Joel Hawthorne - August 30, 2010

When I was 5 or 6 in the mid nineteen fifties I sat on Roy’s knee at the Dodge dealership across from my grandma’s house in Oroville, California. We had the photo for years but it too has disappeared in the mists. I remember it well nonetheless.

22. Gary Broden - September 3, 2010

I am a veteran police officer who growing up did not have a positive role model in the home. My role models were two men who wore white cowboy hats and taught me how to do and live right; those men were Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger (Clayton Moore). Fighting for the underdog and against “wrong doing” inspired me to enter my profession decades ago. I have their collector plates displayed in my office to remind me how times have changed, but goodness and doing that which is right does not have time limitations. I was privileged to tour the museum in Branson a few years ago and relive a special part of my childhood. It is a memory that I will always remember fondly. We were blessed to have heroes back then who stood for values that have since long been tarnished. “Thank you” Rogers’ family for sharing your parents and lives with us all.

23. Pamela Wiltz - September 17, 2010

I grew up watching Roy and Dale’s movies on early Saturday mornings as well as the TV series. Own and read Dale’s books. Feel blesses to have met them an have pictures that were taken with the two of them. They were very special people and feel that their children are as well. I was also fortunate enough to see the museum when I was in Branson, but missed being able to see Roy and Dale again, in person.

It is very sad that the young people coming up today do not have the very positive images of people to look up to any more. I may be showing my age, but values in life do not seem to be very important anymore. One of many changes that make me feel sad.

Happy Trails to their remaining family and Blessings in their lives. I know it has not been as easy decision to make.

24. canna - September 19, 2010

I just read a”On the edge of common sense” by Baxter Black in the newspaper. OMG is all I can say about that… He said Dale Evan’s horse was named buttercup. Broke my heart~~~we all know,love & remember BUTTERMILK.. How could he act like he knew what he was talking about & being so wrong?? ALL BUTTERMILK’S FAN’S DESERVE HIM TO DO THE RIGHT THING ?? RECON’ HE KNOWS WHAT THAT IS ???

canna - September 19, 2010

Looking back, I see #5 D. Cloud~~#14 Mitch~~#19 Frank remember BUTTERMILK~~~~~~~Still wonder why Baxter Black didn’t know….SAD SAD

25. Elfyn Pierce-Jones North Wales UK. - October 3, 2010

I was very disappointed to read today sun 3 October that the Roy & Dale museum had closed.I along with my family were driving along Route 66 in CA.in 1995 when my wife pointed out Trigger outside the museum so we pulled over and toured a museum set up by my childhood hero,Roy was not there as he was not well,this was in Jan 95. The museum was well worth the stop as it brought back memories of meeting both Roy, Dale and of course Trigger on one of their tours of the UK in about 1958 in Liverpool I was 8yrs old.
We are returning to CA. in 2011 and I was hoping to take my now 16 year old daughter to the museum as she was only a baby in ’95. Sadly, this will now never happen.

26. David Diss - October 17, 2010

I too loved Roy Rogers when I was growing up in England in the 40s and 50s. In fact, I loved everything about the USA and my dream of visiting America finally came true in 1998 when my wife and I were on a coach tour.

We were travelling from Las Vegas to LA and passed the sign for Roy’s museum in Victorville. Imagine my disappointment when we couldn’t visit as it wasn’t on the itinary!

But I finally got to see it during another tour which included Branson. It was well worth it and I only wish we could have spent longer there before having to move on.

So sad that it didn’t succeed but at least I saw it. Thank you Roy for bringing back all those boyhood memories, You will never be forgotten.

27. Chris - February 25, 2011

Rent the museum property, WHY? With the family wealth they should have bought property and then this probably wouldn’t have happened. Obviously someone was making a mint from the deceased. The insurance probably was part to blame as well. Shame on them all.

28. tony smith - March 10, 2011

Roy loved killing, all right, as long as it entailed no risks. He evaded military service
in WW2, but loved killing animals. He was one
cruel jerk, no doubt.

JIm Tight - June 24, 2011

Tony, A jerk? Absolutely not Roy Rogers was a generous, devout, charitable man of high character. Mr. Rogers was a sportsman who hunted and fished acording to the laws of our land. He partook of our renewable natural resources according to the regulations imposed by our government.
At the time of WW II Mr.Rogers was a widowed single parent, not subject to conscriiption. Married men WITH wives and children didn’t have to go either.
Inspite of your hateful comments, Roy would still say to you, “Goodby, Good luck. And may the good Lord take a likin to ya.” JIM TIGHT

29. Ronold L. Arnold Sr. - March 14, 2011

I the late 1950′s while living and working in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, Myself, an a couple of my hunting and fishing friends joined the Aqua Sierra Gun Club in Chatsworth for the purpose of recreational Trap and Skeet shooting and was quite fortunate to meet Roy Rogers, Clark Gable, and Frank Ferguson (all three who were “crack” shots and very seldom missed a clay bird) who were regulars there on Saturdays and Wednesdays and even had the opportunity to fill in with them on several occasions to make up a team for both Trap and Skeet. I found all three to be very friendly in every respect. You never really knew Roy unless you met him in person. If he had a dark side it sure never showed in the two years I new him personally.

30. obbop - March 26, 2011

Did the “powers that be” rend Trigger asunder and utilize his awesomeness in creating a Roy Rogers fast-food burger?

Just curious

Gerry Mantel - March 26, 2011

No, but another fast-food chain may have, considering that Trigger had a Whopper of a history ….

31. Rick Lindy - May 30, 2011

Why didnt they move the museum back to the original area?

Ron - May 30, 2011

Rick, I suspect it’s because 1) the museum in Branson was running out of money; 2) the museum in Victorville saw its attendance drop precipitously after Roy’s death.

32. Anonymous - July 2, 2011

Ryan R- July 2,2011. He was a friend a hero and a lot more to me and others we rode motorcycles in the desert around Apple Valley together. We both loved a good birddog and the outdoors, Dusty and I are same age and I talked to him on phone the day of auction. If you have ever heard hurt and pain in someone’s voice it was far worst than mine. Remember him, love them all and always respect them and their memory. What had to be done was done and I hope all the things he loved and cared about are cherished by those who own them, now. May the good Lord take a liking to you. ADIOS

33. Anonymous - July 9, 2011

Dear Rogers Family,

I learned for the first time today that the musem was closing.
I never got to see it, but I enjoyed watching your parents on TV.
Your dad was so handsom and your mom so pretty. I even had a crush on Roy and was a bit jealous of Dale.
I know how difficult it is to give up parts of what you grew up with, but the wonderful memories will always be with you.
Sometimes we just have to do things that others don’t understand.
It’s what your parents wanted and they would understand.

Bless you all

34. William Dakota - September 11, 2011

When I heard the museum was moving from California, Victorville, I tried to get a hold of them to suggest they move the museum to Hollywood on Hollywood Boulevard. I was told they had made up their mind to movie to Branson. Well, we now know that was a mistake, but the Roger’s kids weren’t too smart anyway. At least they cleaned up on the auction. But, the Gene Autry Museum, was a smart idea and they are very successful. They opened near the Hollywood tourists. Rogers family got what they deserved. They were just hangers on and had no experience in exploitation or business sense. Trigger, sold along with the other most important memories of Roy and Dale. They should have been in a museum where Roy’s fans were, not just country music fans in Branson. Rest in Peace Roy and Dale, you didn’t get to see what they did to your memories. Shame, shame, shame.

35. Harry Marriner - June 8, 2012

My ex-wife’s uncle William Witney wrote a fun book about his experiences with Trigger. He was the director of most of the old Roy Rogers’ movies at Republic Studios. It’s called “Trigger Remembered.” I thought it would be a cheap book on Amazon.com but just went there and see that the little book in used condition is now selling for $288.88. Bill gave us one, but my wife took it with her http://www.amazon.com/Trigger-remembered-William-Witney/dp/B0006EYMSG Too bad he didn’t give us two!
One story I remember him telling us was that Trigger was so smart that he was left by a tree alone. On cue a herd of “wild” horses was released down the canyon. Trigger’s job was to lead them down into a corral or some other place. When he finished the job he returned to the tree and stood still waiting for the shout “Take Two!” It definitely wasn’t his first film. Bill said that Trigger was the smartest horse he ever worked with.

36. Karen - July 14, 2012

So sad to hear about the loss of this important part of our American Heritage. It seems like this could have been avoided somehow. Why didn’t the family offer the collection to the Smithsonian instead of throwing it all away? I guess we’ll never know the truth about their motivations, but it is a terribly sad for all of us who grew up with Roy and Dale as our heroes to see this legacy treated this way. Happy Trails to all where we Will meet again!

37. M. Ruthie Johnson - July 20, 2012

I too am sad to hear of the museum closing. Roy and Dale were a part of my teenage years of growing up in Weatherford, TX. I never got to see the museum but I have my memories of Roy and Dale. I cried when I heard the news. It is so sad…
Ruthie

Marie - July 21, 2012

As yourself am sad so sad the Roy & Dale’s museum closed and sold all the grand memories many of us have from our childhood. Believe that if the family had thought of bringing Roy & Dale, along with Pat Brady’s last home here to Colorado they could have built a grand place were the west is the west and memories could have been shared with our children now and to come for many years.

38. ROBERT - July 25, 2012

I visited the museum in Victorville a couple years before it closed. I saw in a recent article from the Autry Museum in LA that they had purchased at “the auction”, one of Roy’s saddles and his earliest guitar. The Autry museum should have “gotten” most of Roy’s collection and made an additional wing onto the present location to house it. Think of the extra visitors they would get just by folks coming to see Trigger. Together the Autry would have housed the two most famous cowboy’s of the movies and Roy’s collection would not be scattered all over.

David Danielson - July 25, 2012

I understand people’s distress but this is the essence of Capitalism. People value profit above all other values and this is what you get. This has increasingly been shown to be a defective and destructive way to look at the world. It is unfortunate that the adulation of money destroys something worth so much more than money. Here is a wistful tribute to Roy Rogers from Elton John and Bernie Taupin:


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