Bar, Cowboy Bar, 1950's. On the right hand side of the photo, slot machines are clearly visible in the mirror.
In Wyoming, just about every town has a "cowboy bar." Only Jackson has a "Million Dollar Cowboy Bar." The bar has over the years changed from one which actually appealed to
cowboys to one which appeals to tourists. As James Brooke, a writer for the New York Times,
August 14, 1996, put it: "While Jackson's 19 gift shops, 21 clothing stores and 33 art galleries relentlessly
peddle variations on the cowboy theme, the closest that most visitors come to a cowboy is
the buckaroo on the Wyoming license plate of their rental car."
Gambling in Wyoming has been illegal since 1901. Gambling remained in Teton County throughout the
1930's and later. As indicated by
the above and next photos, slot machines were very much in the open in the Cowboy Bar until 1956 when Governor Milward
Simpson finally had enough of the flouting of the law in Teton County. The slot machines were immediately to the
left as one entered the saloon, directly across from the bar.
Backbar mirror Cowboy Bar, 1950's. On either side of the cash register, slot machines are clearly visible in the mirror.
The bar allegedly has at least one bullet hole in it, not, however, from any
Old West shoot-out. Supposedly, a night watchman, Cyrus Ray Ferrin, was scared by either his
own shadow or the shadow of his pet poodle. Ferrin, the brother-in-law of Goe, was originally a stockgrower, but fell on hard
times during the Depression. Thus, he took employment at the Cowboy Bar as night watchman and
occasionally at the gambling tables.
Neon Sign, Cowboy Bar, late 1940's.
The neon lights in the top photo were added by Preston Parkinson after he purchased the bar from Goe about 1945.
Parkinson also added the appellation "Million Dollar" after renovations were required as a result of a gas explosion in the basement.
The term "Floor Shows" does not indicate a Las Vegas type review. It denotes that there is
Cowboy Bar, Jackson, approx. 1941.
Jackson, Cache looking South to Broadway, approx. 1960.
The Cowboy bar is famous for its elaborately carved bar built by Jack Kranenberg and Nels Elder.
In its top are embedded approximately six-hundred silver dollars.
Bar in Cowboy Bar, prior to 1973.
Originally, the bar had
ordinary bar stools. In 1973, the bar stools were replaced by saddles with little saddle blankets. In 2003 the writer visited the bar.
At that time although the bar still had a few cowboys the majority of patrons rode iron horses from Sturgis. The bar featured various trendy
micro-brewery style bottled beer including Snake River and Moose Drool. On the day in question, however,
they were out of Moose Drool. As of 2013 the Moose Drool was again available but most of the customers appeared to be
tourists passing through to Yellowstone.
The Front doors of the Cowboy Bar 1950's.
The knobby wood appearance of the bar was carried through to the outside doors of the bar.
Next Page: Jackson Continued.