Unhappy Trails for Roy Rogers Estate

updated 07/10/2001 at 12:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/10/2001 5:31PM

A portion of the estate of the late "King of the Cowboys" Roy Rogers and his queen, Dale Evans, was auctioned off late last week in order to meet a heavy estate-tax bill, the fabled couple's son, Roy "Dusty" Rogers Jr., told the Associated Press. "We have to survive," said Rogers, referring to his parents' museum in Victorville, Calif., which draws 50,000 visitors annually. (Highlight of the archives: a stuffed version of Roy's faithful horse, Trigger.) Evans, who was 88, died this past February; Rogers, who was 86, died in 1998. With their passing, said their son, the IRS levied a 58% tax on the estate, not including a nearly $150,000 property tax bill. This is why surviving family members are considering moving the museum to a more heavily trafficked tourist area, such as Las Vegas or Branson, Mo. "If the museum doesn't survive here," Rogers said of Victorville, "it will somewhere else." Of the two locations, the calmer Branson seems the likelier choice. "They still believe in God and country," said Rogers, "and the median age of visitors is 55 and up." Given that, he says, attendance could zoom to 188,000 people in the first year alone.

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