Friday, August 24, 2012

Visit Red Ryder in Pagosa Springs

RR greets you at the door
Anyone who grew up in the 1940s or early '50s, especially boys, remembers Red Ryder, the cowboy hero of newspaper comic strips, comics, books, 38 feature movies, and for nine years a popular radio show. And countless millions of young boys ever since remember with fondness either owning or wanting to own their very own Red Ryder BB gun -- as made famous by character Ralphie in the popular holiday movie "A Christmas Story."

Harman's studio for two decades
The man behind Red Ryder and his Indian sidekick Little Beaver was Fred Harman, who grew up and later spent much of his life in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Late in life, Harman gain fame as a serious western artist.
John Wayne slept here.
Early on, he struggled as an artist and businessman. When they were both getting started, he and his buddy Walt Disney formed a company that failed.

You can learn all about Harman and Red Ryder at the Fred Harman museum in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, on the western edge of town along state route 160. Admission is $3, less for kids.

Ralphie and BB gun.
Visit Harman's studio and see his paintings and even originals of Red Ryder cartoons. Buy a genuine Daisy Red Ryder BB gun for $60, or spend $110 for a rare Ryder Ryder comic book. If you don't want to buy a BB gun, then just admire the very first Red Ryder BB gun ever made. Harman's serious art is displayed: one small painting sports a $10,000 pricetag. As an extra treat, sit or even lie down on the long couch that served John Wayne's bed when he would visit.

The museum is open year round, but call first in the winter months to get the abbreviated schedule, (970) 731-5785.

RV parking appears limited when you drive in, but drive around back for more space, or just park on the grass -- no problem.

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