Back in time

Back in time

Mosey down a dirt street, browse through old-time shops, watch a Wild West shootout, or belly up to the saloon bar for a cold sarsaparilla. You can do it all at Dogwood Pass near Beaver in rural Pike County.   

Owner Mike Montgomery says he didn’t set out to build an attraction — he initially opened his dream town as a fundraiser to benefit a youngster with health problems. Similar events followed, and they drew large enough crowds that he and his volunteer helpers decided to open the gate to the public. “I’m a history buff,” he says. “My passion led me to build an Old West mining town right here on my farm — it is literally right here in my own back yard.”

The 1800s-era village stems from Montgomery’s longtime interest in the Old West and has gradually evolved with the support of his wife, Sharlene (who portrays heroine Calamity Jane), family members, and a legion of volunteers.

Owners Mike and Sharlene Montgomery stay in character while manning the saloon.

Owners Mike and Sharlene Montgomery stay in character while manning the saloon.

More than 30 buildings sit on 2 acres at Dogwood Pass, offering a full day of activities for visitors.
Volunteer Karen Taylor does a load of laundry, Old West style.
Mike Montgomery prepares for the day’s show.
It’s not uncommon for tensions to run high and spill out into a shootout in front of the saloon.

The saloon came first in 2010, and today more than 30 buildings occupy a 2-acre tract at the Montgomery farm. There’s a general store, a jail, a bank, a photography studio complete with vintage costumes, an undertaker, a shooting gallery, a blacksmith shop, a combination church/school, Boot Hill cemetery, and the Montgomery Mining Company, where young and old alike can mine for gems on certain days.

The bath house, located a stone’s throw from the saloon, features a coffin-style traveling bathtub as well as a copper model that once belonged to the family of Frank and Jesse James. Although a handwritten sign boasts haircuts for 35 cents, shaves for 15 cents, and baths for 50 cents, there are no takers, according to volunteer reenactor Judy “Lady Maxine” Taylor.

The Prospector’s Kitchen, located near the show area, offers hamburgers, hot dogs, and snacks instead of standard cowboy fare like beans and hard tack. Over yonder, a bakery and candy emporium tempts visitors wanting something sweet.

“Of course, there’s a livery stable for the horses,” says Montgomery, who spent much of his career reining horses. “Many folks — and especially the kids — consider them the stars of the show.”

A special feature at Dogwood Pass, of which Montgomery is justifiably proud, is the Roy Rogers Memory Museum. It salutes the life and times of the legendary cowboy actor and singer, who grew up in nearby Scioto County, and his wife, Dale Evans.

The Montgomerys were approached by organizers of the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Collectors Association after the previous museum in Portsmouth was damaged in a storm. Dodie Rogers Patterson, youngest daughter of the television stars, presided at the ribbon-cutting.

Dogwood Pass offers Old West shows through the season that runs from late May through December. Haunted events are on the schedule on Fridays and Saturdays in October, while holiday characters including the Grinch, Santa Claus, and Frosty the Snowman join cowboys in a less shoot-’em-up storyline to close out the season after Thanksgiving. 

Dogwood Pass, 722 Adams Road, Beaver, Ohio 45613. 740-835-1130. $15 (cash only, ATM on-site), under 6 free. For full schedule, search for Dogwood Pass on Facebook.