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For Sale: A Piece of the Old West

Nostalgia: Victorville building housing the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum goes on the block, but not Trigger or the other items on display or in storage.

April 13, 2002|ERIC MALNIC | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The sprawling building housing the financially troubled Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in the Mojave Desert town of Victorville is for sale.

The 33,000-square-foot structure on 50 acres beside Interstate 15 displays a collection paying homage to the "King of the Cowboys" and the "Queen of the West," who starred together in more than 30 motion pictures and two television series. He died in 1998 and she died last year.

The couple's son, Roy "Dusty" Rogers Jr., said Friday that the sale would not include the approximately 100,000 items stored or displayed at the museum, including Rogers' stuffed and mounted horse, Trigger, and his dog, Bullet.

"It's the building and the property that are for sale," Rogers said. "The [collection] will never be for sale."

Several important pieces of the collection, however, have already been sold.

Roy Roger's gold-, silver- and ruby-studded saddle and matching chaps and spurs were auctioned off for $670,000 in January to satisfy the family's estate tax bill of more than $1 million.

Also sold were some of the couples' clothes and hats, some movie posters and Roy Rogers' favorite bowling shirt and ball.

Dusty Rogers said declining attendance since the death of his parents has cut museum revenues and forced him to seek a more promising location.

"Right now, people just blitz by us at 85 [mph] on their way to Las Vegas," he said. "And Mom and Dad's fans are getting older. We need to go where those people are."

Rogers said he's thinking of relocating "somewhere in the Midwest, maybe a place like Branson, Mo., the country music capital."

He estimated that the museum building in Victorville--built to look like a Western fort--and the land surrounding it could bring as much as $5 million.

Rogers said the museum will remain open until a sale is consummated.

"That'll probably be at least a year," he said.

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