BRANSON, Mo. – An open letter written by Roy Rogers Jr., son of legendary stars of American Western films and television Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, confirms that the Roy Rogers Museum will close next month.
The museum, which moved from its original site in Victorville, Calif., in 2003, is one of the most visible landmarks in the country/Western show mecca Branson, Missouri. The tourist attraction contains personal mementos of the Rogers family, including scrapbooks, pictures from the early days of Roy Rogers’ musical group the Sons of the Pioneers, and even Rogers’ taxidermied palomino horse, Trigger, in his famous rearing pose on hind legs.
In his letter to the public, Roy Rogers Jr. expressed his thanks to fans and the museum’s board of directors, whom he said had kept the attraction going for more than 42 years.
“It has been a wonderful ride,” Rogers Jr. said. “After millions of visitors and countless stories of what Roy and Dale have meant to you, the board of directors has voted to close our doors of the museum at the end of 2009.”
Rogers Jr. said the decision to close the museum has come after two years of steady decline in visitors to the museum. “A lot of factors have made our decision for us,” Rogers Jr. said, “the economy for one. People are just not traveling as much. Dad’s fans are getting older and concerned about their retirement funds. Everyone is concerned about their future in this present economy. Secondly, with our high fiscal obligations we cannot continue to accumulate debt to keep the doors open. This situation is one I have not wanted to happen. Dad always said, ‘If the museum starts costing you money, then liquidate everything and move on.’ Myself and my family have tried to hold together the museum and collection for over 15 years, so it is very difficult to think that it will all be gone soon.”
Rogers Jr. plans to continue business as usual with his company, Golden Stallion, which produces a tribute show to Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. “I plan on taking the show to another venue in Branson. We are looking for space now,” Rogers Jr. said, adding that he has plans to take the show, and “the message of Roy and Dale,” on the road.
The museum’s last day of operation will be Dec. 12. Further information can be accessed online at www.royrogers.com.
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