Route 66 News

RFD-TV buys Roy Rogers’ horse, dog at auction

RFD-TV's Patrick Gottsch with Trigger and Bullet. (Photo courtesy of RFD-TV)

Cable television channel RFD-TV gave thought about purchasing all of the memorabilia from the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans museum when its contents were put on the auction block a few days ago.

Instead, it bought the next-best thing. RFD-TV president Patrick Gottsch purchased the movie cowboy’s beloved horse, Trigger, for $266,500. After Trigger died at age 30, it was stuffed and put on display for many years at Rogers’ museum just off Route 66 in Victorville, Calif., then more recently at Branson, Mo., until the museum closed in late 2009.

Gottsch also bought for $35,000 Rogers’ dog, Bullet, which also was stuffed and displayed at the museum.

According to a story in the Omaha World-Herald, Gottsch plans to eventually display Trigger and Bullet at RFD-TV’s main offices in Omaha, Neb. Gottsch also had good news for Rogers fans:

Gottsch has spoken with Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle about the new headquarters and is in talks with the City Planning Department. He said he envisions the company being a visiting spot for tourists, given the acquisitions of Trigger and Bullet and memorabilia he would like to add.

“Now we’re going to have a museum wing,” he said. […]

The mounted animals will be on an RFD-TV set weekly in November, when Rogers’ son and grandson will introduce 53-minute-long Rogers films. Gottsch said he’s seeking rights for the Rogers TV shows and has 35 of the Rogers movies.

In advertising spots on RFD-TV in recent days, the network has said it would eventually air Roy Rogers movies. RFD-TV is set to make more announcements about Roy Rogers-related programming at during its “RFD-TV Equine Live!” show at 9 p.m. Central on Thursday.

Gottsch said he considered buying all of the Rogers memorabilia when it went on the block at Christie’s in New York City, but was unable to secure funds in time.

If you’re unfamiliar with RFD-TV, it describes itself as “rural America’s most important network.” It airs a mix of shows about horses, agriculture, country and gospel music, and rural lifestyles. (Disclosure: I admit becoming quite fond of the network, especially “The Marty Stuart Show.”)

The Roy Rogers Museum sat just off Route 66 in Victorville for many years. After Rogers’ death in 1998, attendance at the museum plunged. The Rogers family moved the museum to Branson, but it closed barely six years later. Roy Rogers Jr. said at the announcement of the closing:

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. 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.

As for those who think Rogers’ decision to stuff Trigger after his death was weird and macabre, I could relate. However, after seeing this amazing clip, I can understand Rogers’ motive. Trigger appeared in more than 100 films and helped make Rogers a star. The Roy Rogers Museum enabled Roy to still share the spotlight with his loyal and talented steed.


17 thoughts on “RFD-TV buys Roy Rogers’ horse, dog at auction

  1. D.Cloud

    This is great news! I was so upset to hear the museum had closed and the contents to be auctioned off. Memories of my childhood were everywhere in that museum. We had visited there in 2006 and now am so glad we did. I’m especially proud of the many pictures I took while there. Glad to hear RFD-TV bought Trigger and Bullet. What a memory they have and it goes great with the family theme of RFD-TV and it’s programming.

    1. terry

      I think it’s terrible that EVERY THINK seems to be about money these days. Those poor Animals should’ve had a decent burial,and remembered.

    2. terry

      I watched Roy Rogers while a child. He is still on COZI tv. I hate it that Trigger and Bullitt,and Buttermilk are stuffed. Everything these days is about money. It says in the Bible that ‘money is the root of all evil’. I don’t think any truer words were ever written. I think those precious animals should’ve been buried,not stuffed for eternity. I can’t believe Roy and Dale would go along with doing that to their animals. I think it’s very sad. But people are evil these days,sand have little or no feelings about anything.

  2. Sal Paradise

    Turned out stuffing the horse was a good idea and turned pretty large profit of over 200k. At that rate maybe he should have stuffed some other things.

  3. DynoDave

    I agree with D. Cloud above. RFD-TV is likely to be a great care taker of these items, and the Rogers legacy. And yes, this is one of my favorite networks, with Ag PHD, Hee Haw reruns, and The Marty Stewart Show topping my list of favorites. If Leroy Troy doesn’t put a smile on your face, nothing will!

  4. Dewayne Brake

    Atta-boy! I know how much help the RFD-TV is to ranchers and farmers. HA HA HA You folks could provide real assistance to the agricultural community by providing state of the art educational and research programing, but you won’t! It is so much more fun to live in the past, watch Roy Rogers movies, and think about those thrilling days of yesteryear!! Sorry that was that other masked dude! Have a great time!

  5. Bill Davis

    Howdy Partners,
    I have debated about subscribing to the RFD Magazine and now as a Roy Rogers Fan It is a no brainer I will now for sure.
    Thanks RFD I met Roy twice and no finer a person could you find.
    Bill D.

  6. Shirley Hendricks

    Roy was my all time hero. I met him once in Victorville. It was the highlight of my life! I attended Dusty’s awsome show in Branson, three times!
    It is so wonderful that RFDTV has purchsased Trigger and Bullet and intend to include them in the planned RFD museum, and will show Roy’s and Dale’s movies !
    Becauase I have not been able to view the special about Trigger and Bullet , with the Roger’s family, I am hoping tht RFDTV will make it possible for fans to purchase DVD copies of that program! S.H.

  7. Connie Hanson

    I heard last night on RFD TV that Trigger would be visiting all 50 states. We would love to have Trigger come to the North Dakota State Fair, the state’s largest exhibition.

    Our dates are July 21-29,2011. What are your chances visiting us at that time?

    Thanks, Connie Hanson 701-662-5910

  8. The Cunningham Family

    Dear Trigger and Bullet,
    You just have to come visit us up here in Mid-Michigan to Hillsdale. The Hillsdale County Fair is the oldest county fair in Michigan. In 2011, it will be from the end of September to the beginning of October.
    Hope to see you here!!!

    1. Sam Cappello

      We are true fans of Roy & Dale and Trigger.We visited the museum in Victorville shortly after Roy
      Passed on. My own horse is a fiberglass replica standing prudly in our garage. I can say hello to Thunder each time I drive in. No… having Trigger stuffed for all to see was a great Idea.

  9. Sam Cappello

    We are voting to have a visit from your touring with TRIGGER & BULLET to the Midwest Horse fair in Madison WIsconsin-Every April if not this April how about next April

  10. C.Russel Bomberger

    I heard on your show that you were taking Trigger on the road. If this is true, I think it would be fitting if he could visit the home where roy bought him. Near Lancaster , Penna. in a small village of Eden,just east of Lancaster, from John Ewell. The residents here all know this and would really be appreciatve of his visit.
    a fan of RFDTV

  11. Fred Stafford

    I am so grateful that I was able to live in the hay day of Roy and Gene, I treasure there memory dearly . How sad that the kids of today will never get to know what life was like back then. My very best to R F D

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