The History of the 1895 Historic Bar
Jim Neiman Sr. purchased a historic Red Birch back-bar from the previous owner of the Cowboy Bar in Belle Fourche, SD. Restoration has been completed and it’s a beauty! It is the focal point of 77 Steakhouse & Saloon! The front bar was built to compliment the back bar and to replicate the original front bar in historical photos.
Jim purchased the bar in 2005. His daughter Connie and son-in-law Tom Lindmier lovingly refurbished it for use today. The restoration took about a year to complete. Tom, being a historian, has painstakingly documented the origin of the bar in great detail to be able to provide facts about its origins. Jim stored it in his garage for over 10 years knowing one day he would put it to good use. Instead of letting the bar sit hidden, the Neiman family conceived a plan for making sure Jim would be able to enjoy it in a more public setting. The 77 Steakhouse & Saloon Clubhouse was built to accommodate this historic bar, which is where it sits today, enjoyed by many golfers or anyone passing through.
The ‘Stand-Up’ cowboy bar is 28 feet long, 12 feet high and the main mirror is 13 feet wide. Two small 3-foot mirrors flank the large center mirror with gargoyles and columns all stained to accent traditional cherry wood shades. The side mirrors are the original mirrors, which are French plated and lined with silver. The main mirror had to be special ordered. The original mirror was said to have been destroyed when a whiskey glass went flying into it, back in the day, at its original location. The Red Birch back bar is a sight to see! It’s considered one of THE best-preserved historic bars in Wyoming, and it’s believed many a cowboy bellied up to this bar at some point in history. Seth Bullock was a local rancher and knew Dan Roberts well.
Based on documentation, it is believed that the bar was built by the Chicago firm of Passow and Sons. Originally purchased by Daniel Roberts in 1895, this bar was likely shipped by rail and wagon from Chicago to Belle Fourche, SD in the late 1890's and installed in his saloon as part of his "Stand-Up" bar.
Some trivia about our historic bar:
- When purchased, the bar top was covered in Formica that was glued down and had to be removed.
- The gargoyles were wired for lighting.
- The shields on the columns have two stripes going across them diagonally. All go the same direction on three of the columns, but one has stripes going the opposite direction.
- You can still spot old burn markings on the bar top from when the bartenders would lay their cigarettes on the bar while serving customers.
- The two solid doors in the cabinet area of the bars were for refrigeration, which was done with solid blocks of ice. Beer bottles were stored on their side back then because they had a cork with a foil wrapping. Laying the bottles on their side would prevent the cork from drying out.
- Over the years, tape was used to put notices, specials, etc. on the bar for display. The acid in the tape destroyed the finish on the wood.
- Doors, shelving, drawers and more had to be repaired during restoration. Extra bracing on the back had to be created to reinforce the sturdiness of this masterpiece.
- The hardware is original, restored to its original luster.
- Original owner, Dan Roberts, wanted to open a saloon in the town of Hulett in the early 1900s. Powers that be told him there would never be a saloon in Hulett. Based on research, it seems that held true until after WWII.
- The grand opening of the clubhouse was on July 20, 2019, where Jim had the first drink served at his bar.
- Spirits? Yes, we believe so. Nothing documented, but feelings and things witnessed by the staff and customers would lead one to believe it is so.
Some myths about our historic bar:
- The bar was rescued from a fire. Myth based on historical data. If you note the enormous size of the bar, it is unlikely that it was carried out of a burning building that destroyed the entire building but left the bar unharmed. Additionally, the building that was claimed to have burned down was not the location in town of this bar.
- Money was stored in a hiding spot of the bar. Most likely not. When opening the section of the claimed area, anything stored there would have fallen down into the structures of the bar that would not be accessible to anyone. During restoration no money was found, which would have fallen into the bar had money been stored in the supposed hiding spot.
- The bar was made by Brunswick. This is not believed to be correct after much research of all Brunswick bars from this era. There is documentation from Passow & Sons that has been found and this bar is representative of their work.
Stories, rumors and myths will always surround western history. We appreciate Tom’s dedication to studying the history and documenting findings to be able to provide the most accurate information possible.
While Wyoming is known as the outdoor state, the amenities offered at the Golf Club at Devils Tower are anything but rough. Elegantly western in design, our clubhouse, the 77 Steakhouse & Saloon, is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the vast scenic splendor. Enjoy the Black Hills of Wyoming. Peruse our collection of unique, authentic western artifacts and original artwork by Hulett resident Bob Coronato, who’s portrait of Russell Means is on permanent display at the Smithsonian.