Sights & Sounds from
the Jones Fantastic Museum!
Listen as Doc
Jones describes the many wonders inside!
click on Image to
visit Jones Fantastic Museum
This recording of Doc
Jones (along with the laughing man & woman recording) was heard
playing out in front of the museum where there were
display cases with pictures of strange human oddities
all aimed at enticing the public to enter. The audio recording and
most of the photographs used in this video are from the museum
while it was open in the early 1970s at the Seattle Center Food
Circus 3rd level. The voice is that of Walther H. Jones the
founder of the Jones Fantastic Show / Museum, which first opened
in Lynnwood Washington in the late 1950s.
Jones Fantastic Museum
- Model T C-Cab
Museum was a family-oriented museum filled with a unique
collection of weird and amazing inventions, strange sideshow
attractions, old-time dime museum machines and antique exhibits
located in Seattle, Washington, United States, from 1963 to 1980.
It was created by avid collector Walt a.k.a. Doc Jones.
In 1959, Jones and his
wife Dorothy opened up a museum on Gunnysack Hill, a mile-long
section of U.S. Route 99 just north of Lynnwood, Washington This
first museum was also named Jones' Fantastic Museum.
Many Jones pieces
formed a popular attraction at the 1952 Seattle World's Fair The
collection subsequently found a home on the balcony level (third
floor) of the former Food Circus (now Center House) in the Seattle
Center Called Jones' Fantastic Show when it first opened on
Saturday, October 5, 1963, the Seattle museum was renamed Jones'
Fantastic Museum sometime after the Gunnysack Hill museum closed.
Below are some
excerpts from an article written by Terri Malinowski that appeared
December 12, 1963 in the Northshore Citizen newspaper.
After purchasing five
rustic acres north of Woodinville, [Jones] discovered the remnants
of a log cabin on the property. The germ of an idea was born, and
soon Walter and Dorothy Jones were constructing their own ghost
town. Called Rusty Gulch, the full length street included a
saloon, jail, barber
shop and general mercantile store, while a whiskey
still nestled snugly in the woods behind the town. The word of
Jones' hobby spread and soon people were virtually climbing the
fence to see his private creation.
preserve family privacy and display the items in the proper
manner, the couple opened its Highway 99 museum. Most of the ghost
town and contents were moved to the museum, plus a variety of
contraptions built by Jones himself.
Although Jones began
building and collecting these curiosities some 15 years ago, they
were only a domestic hobby until he and his wife Dorothy opened
their Fantastic Museum on Highway 99 near Lynnwood four years ago.
Then when the Seattle Center began casting about for novelty
amusements this past summer, it contacted Jones. The Fantastic
Show was born on the balcony of the Food Circus Oct. 5.
The story of Jones'
preoccupation with fakery and illusion really goes back to a
boyhood spent in Ketchikan, Alaska, where touring carnivals and
circuses were a rarity for amusement-parched children.
"I still recall
arriving in town just moments too late to ride on a steam-driven
merry-go-round that was touring the Alaskan seaport towns,"
recalled Jones. "I was broken-hearted, and I suppose recollections
like this provided the impetus for my present shows."
Exhibits and Attractions
Displayed outside the entrance
to the museum were many old pictures of sideshow freaks and human
oddities. The Okeh Laughing
Record, a 1923 recording of a man and woman laughing
while a musician plays a funereal trumpet solo, played in a
continuous loop along with a recording of Jones as a sideshow
barker, enticing people to enter.
For 13 years the
museum featured a real live vampire named Count Pugsly
Remembering Count Pugsly
roamed around scaring children and adults alike, even outside the
museum. Sometimes he would appear to be a mannequin, standing
still until an unsuspecting visitor stepped in front of him. As
soon as the realization struck the visitor that no activating
floor mat was there, he would walk towards them, often eliciting
loud screams of fright.
The role of the vampire was
played by future horror author Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire. Pugmire's
recent works include Lovecraftian books of weird fiction. His
earlier works include the publication of the punk rock fanzine
Punk Lust in the 1980s.
click on Image to
visit Jones Fantastic Museum
machine is a monument to the last months of sanity of the late
Professor Zaccharias Zilch, who knows
the far horizons. This
genius of all time may have conquered has his life not been
snuffed out at the tender age of 102.
The museum included a
collection of funhouse mirrors, mannequins sporting extra legs and
arms, a "Death Ray" machine, Sally Rand's dancing slippers, a long
row of electronic switches that randomly activated a variety of
automatons, a nine-foot-tall "mummified Viking" called Olaf the
Giant, and a talking skull wearing a Hitler moustache that loudly
spouted gibberish in German. Jones had sped up an actual recording
of Hitler, giving his speech a cartoonish quality. The sign in
front of the skull read "Hitler is Alive!"
An especially memorable item
was the Laughing Lady, dubbed Laffing Sal by her manufacturer. She
rocked back and forth laughing uncontrollably with her arms and
legs swinging wildly whenever someone stepped on a floor mat in
front of her glass and wood case. More exhibits appear in the list
of items below.
click on Image to
visit Jones Fantastic Museum
Doc Jones committed
suicide in the early 1970s. In 1973, the third floor of the Food
Circus was being renovated, so Jones' heirs moved a greatly
downsized version of the museum into the basement. Much smaller
than before, it remained there until 1980. Two years later, the
entire collection was donated to Seattle Children's Hospital per
Jones' will. The will stipulated that if the contents of the
museum were ever sold, they must be sold as a whole and not broken
The hospital put the
collection up for sale in 1984. After searching one year for a
buyer, museum broker Bill Zimmerman found collector Jim Schmit of
Oregon. According to Zimmerman, the sale "was difficult because
the items were so diverse and bizarre and because the hospital
wanted to sell it in its entirety."
Schmit, already known
to Southern Oregonians for gathering together the world's largest
collection of antique outhouses, purchased the entire collection
for an undisclosed amount, in partnership with his former neighbor
and friend, Baltimore businessman Ralph Bothne.
As of late 1985, much of the
Jones collection formed part of the Lakeview Fantastic Museum,
located in the small Southern Oregon town of Lakeview on U.S.
Route 395 near the California border. For some reason—perhaps a
dearth of visitors due to the remote location by 1991 Schmit had
moved his museum to a more prominent location in Redmond, Oregon.
Renamed the World Famous Fantastic Museum, it opened in June 1991.
There is evidence to suggest
that the museum's relationship with Redmond city planners was
always contentious. Schmit's putting up a Ferris wheel on the
property may have led directly to the closing of the popular and
successful museum in 1996.
In May 1997, Schmit
opened up the Museum of the Fantastic in Sisters, Oregon.
Containing only 10% of his collection, it was shut down less than
two years after it opened.
The Abdominal Snow
Woman guards Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.
Schmit is credited with
discovering Chinese basketball giant Yao Ming at age 14 and
following his progress until he came to the NBA.
Breakup of the Collection
At some point, perhaps around
the time the Redmond museum opened, another museum containing a
portion of the Jones collection opened in Yakima, Washington. The
existence of this other museum—hundreds of miles from
Redmond—probably marks the beginning of the dissolution of the
Jones collection. However, the two collections were still
displayed under one name: World Famous Fantastic Museum.
In 1993, Doug Higley
**purchased many Jones pieces from both museums
for his True Wonders Old Time Museum at Lake Tahoe in California.
Sharing Jones' passion for sideshows, freaks and oddities, Higley
went to great effort and expense to make his Tahoe museum the best
around. Despite his great care and attention to detail, Higley's
museum only lasted about a year. Visitors to the area instead
spent their money in the
casinos adjacent to the museum.
Jim Shmidt's Outhouse collection was eventually bulldozed. Details
unknown at this point. I saw it though and it was a 'pisser'. (pun
information by Doug Higley Jan. 7, 2014
Here is a link to
The True Wonders Museum which encapsulates my efforts in '93
to carry on the traditions and of course add my own spin to the
dime museum concept begun by Mr. Barnum. It was a life long dream
come true and due to economic forces ended on a note less than as
The wiki article is incorrect in that I did not 'purchase' the Doc
Jones exhibits but rather entered in agreement to show them in
conjunction with my own collection...on loan so to speak. It was
an enterprise we all could be proud of but the lesson was Do Not
Locate Next To Casinos! (People have other things on their minds
than giant mummies).
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