Depending on who you talk to, the old Trail Creek Tavern was the embodiment of a Wild West saloon, complete with fistfights and shootouts, or a watering hole with live music and a clientele that sometimes got a little too rowdy, or a little too loud, or both. In any event the tavern, which opened in 1934 shortly after the end of prohibition, failed to get its license renewed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission at the end of 1996. The following spring the building was purchased by the Upper Rogue Historical Society and converted into a museum.
The Trail Creek Tavern Museum is located in the town of Trail, just north of Shady Cove on Hwy 62. Since the museum’s founding, the old Shady Cove Town Hall and Trail Post Office were moved there and added to it. There is a blacksmith’s shop, which was built by volunteers, and three acres of outdoor displays, mostly historical logging equipment. Some of the items date as far back as the 1800s. There is also a picnic area.
And of course, there’s the fascinating collection of exhibits inside the tavern building itself. Those exhibits focus on the history of the Upper Rogue area, going back to the pioneers who founded the local communities and the indigenous native people who were there first.
Two exhibits in particular deserve special mention. One is a small collection of Ginger Rogers memorabilia. The famous actress and dancer lived near Shady Cove for 50 years, and her memory has become an indelible part of the local landscape. The other exhibit showcases some of the remarkable work of Carl Jantzer, a woodsman and metal sculptor from Shady Cove who passed away in 2008.
Admission is free, but donations are always welcome, and help the museum stay open. Hours are 12:30-4:30pm, Wednesday through Sunday, April-September, and the same hours on weekends, October-December. Also open by appointment.