The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar has a long and colorful history that began
in the late 1890's when the first commercial buildings came to Jackson.
The site was the location for a Doctors office before being rented to
the first bank in Jackson Hole. After the bank was torn down, Joe Ruby
erected Ruby's Cafe and Beer Garden.
In 1937, Mr. Ben Goe purchased the bar and changed the name to the
Cowboy Bar. It was Ben Goe's good fortune that won the bar the first
liquor license in the State of Wyoming following the repeal of prohibition.
The bar was remodeled to include the knobbled pine which graces the bar
to this day. Mr. Goe spent one whole winter cleaning and scraping the
pine before it was used for construction. Since the knobbled pine was so
well liked by the customers, Ben spent another 14 months transporting
more of the wood, for chairs, pillars, walls and ceiling trim. At this
time they also built a long fancy bar with silver dollars inlaid in the top.
In the mid-1940's, the Cowboy Bar was sold to Preston Parkinson, who is
responsible for the present "Million Dollar Cowboy Bar" name. Mr.
Parkinson expanded the bar, again using knobbled pine to create
distinctive handles, railings and other interior and exterior decorations.
In 1953, a gas explosion from the basement caused extensive damage to
the bar. Many of the huge pine pillars crumbled, chairs were broken, and
nearly all the elaborately decorated basement was destroyed. Mr.
Parkinson, a casualty of the explosion, vowed from his hospital bed that
he would restore the bar to its original condition. He also added the
huge neon sign that still marks the front of the bar on the town square.
In 1973 to Ron Schultz, Bud Jensen, and Cliff Poindexter bought the bar
and installed the saddle bar stools and a London-made red carpet that
bore the symbol and name of the Cowboy Bar.
Since 1988 The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar has been owned by Art & Carol
Andersen and Hagan & the late Roger Dudley. At the present time, there
are no other changes expected in the structure of the bar, because The
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar has the best live western music in the Tetons
and it remains the number one bar in Jackson Hole. It is a vital part of
western Americana, and, is renowned throughout the world as an example
of what the wild Wyoming west was, and still is.
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar present-day co-owner, Art Andersen, is a
knowledgeable and avid collector of western memorabilia. Much of his
personal collection now adorns the bar and many items are museum worthy
western relics. Stop by the bar for a closer look at these and many more
The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar has even more to offer than it's
one-of-a-kind architecture, western flare and artifacts, great music and
During the 1940s and 1950s, gambling was
prevalent in Jackson Hole. It was illegal, statewide, but Jackson's
location and the relative isolation of the valley combined with its
distance from Cheyenne, made law enforcement a token effort. The only
deterrent was the occasional raid, and even then, there was usually
plenty of advance warning. Slot machines and crap tables mysteriously
disappeared into tunnels beneath the Cowboy and Wort Hotel, and
reappeared as soon as the heat was off.