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.