Come for the Whiskey, Stay for the Cowboy Justice

Welcome to Eagle Rock, home of Dick Chamberlain’s Saloon

Published online: Jun 29, 2020 Articles, Looking Back Jeff Carr
Viewed 677 time(s)

If you make only one stop in Eagle Rock on your trek through the territory, Dick Chamberlain’s saloon is a good option. True to its surroundings in the dusty frontier town, this place really does “old west” right. It has the standard saloon fare (probably stuff like cold cuts, beans, chips and pickles) and plenty of booze, but it’s the extras that really make it tick. It’s sort of a central meeting spot for the town and has billiards on the first floor, an organ upstairs, space for dancing and rooms for rent. Chamberlain also owns a ten-pin bowling alley next door.

If you go, just keep on your toes. The place attracts a rough crowd, and fights – including gunfights – sound like pretty regular occurrences.

While you’re there, make sure to talk to “Uncle Dick” himself. He’s an institution in his own right: a Civil War vet (see if you can get him to tell you what side he was on), and drifted west through Dakota and Colorado before coming to Eagle Rock with the railroad in 1879. He soon bought a bunch of land and opened the saloon. In fact, he also owns a cemetery a couple blocks away, and sells plots out of the saloon – $5 for six. This may sound like a strange fit, but apparently troublemakers quite often go straight from the saloon to the cemetery. 

Chamberlain is a big man and clearly not to be trifled with, and some locals told us the saloonkeeper has been more effective at maintaining law and order than the sheriff himself, or any other authority. Sounds like it’s judgment and “the general peace” that still carries weight around here – not the letter of the law. One resident, a Mr. Keefer, claims that two rowdy cowboys were once causing trouble, shooting at streetlights and passersby, when Chamberlain caught word and threatened to kill them if they didn’t stop. They carried on, so he followed through on his threat, and returned to the saloon a hero. He also breeds horses, served as mayor and organized the town’s first fire department. Interesting guy.

On Eagle Rock Street near the toll bridge. Look for the sign that says “saloon.” Would recommend.

Note: The details in this review come from actual historical writings and reminiscences about Chamberlain and his saloon. However, we recognize that the review itself is, at best, not useful, as the saloon has been closed since 1896.


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