Unusual Exhibits

A man wearing a black shirt with a Route 66 logo hunched his shoulders over the long mahogany bar at Flagstaff’s Museum Club and enjoyed an afternoon reprieve. With a Brooks and Dunn CD playing in the background, this is probably the quietest the club will be all day. The man wearing that Route 66 shirt is Fred Baur. He’s from Germany, and he just arrived in Flagstaff. One of his first stops was to visit the Museum Club. “I read about it in Route 66 books,” he explained as he continued to talk about traveling sections of historic Route 66.

The club’s owner, Martin Zanzucchi, just smiled as the conversation unfolded. Fred isn’t the first European to come through the wooden doors of this night club. Zanzucchi flipped through a guest book kept out during the early hours before six o’clock — before the night crowd gets too rowdy. He pointed to names of people from countries such as South Africa, England, Germany and Belgium. There are plenty of reasons why the Museum Club often makes it on the list of “must sees” for travelers. It’s steeped in rich Northern Arizona history complete with odd tales and spooky recounts of ghosts — stories that are even more impressive given that this historic roadhouse sits alongside “The Mother Road.”

Zanzucchi, who is known for his efforts to get Sante Fe Avenue changed back to Route 66, loves everything about the Museum Club. He especially enjoys sharing its history with anyone who’s interested. Zanzucchi’s enthusiasm is contagious. As he began to talk about the club’s roots, and you begin to wonder if you’re entering the pages of “Ripley’s Believe it or Not.” You should. That’s what the original builder of this massive log cabin wanted to create.

The Early Days

This history dances across the dark wood walls of the Museum Club, beginning with a small advertisement. “Wanted: freaks, antique guns, and prehistoric Indian curios.” Those were the words of Dean Eldridge — an eccentric character with a tattooed body and a passion for collecting, well, stuff — odd stuff. As a young boy, Eldridge began collecting all sorts of curios including a petrified frog. He dreamed of having a museum dedicated to everything from stuffed animals to Native American artifacts. That dream took shape in Flagstaff when he began building “The Dean Eldridge Museum and Taxidermy.”


A large forked ponderosa pine was cut down and flipped over, putting the finishing touch to the Dean Eldridge Museum, which officially opened June 20, 1931. To pull people off Route 66, Eldridge placed a stuffed eagle on the entry way and two mountain lions at each corner of the building. It worked. People came to see his 30,000 specimen collection and to buy Indian curios.



Today, you won’t find much of Eldridge’s original collection but you will find pictures of some of his more interesting items, including a photograph of a stuffed one eyed lamb, a two headed calf and even a six legged lamb. Current owner Zanzucchi rested his hand against the entryway wall. “What he wanted was a Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” Zanzucchi explained.


In 1936, Doc Williams, a Flagstaff saddle maker took over the unique cabin and turned it into the Museum Club when Eldridge died. But it was Don Scott, a musician with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, who really transformed the Museum Club into a must stop for top country musicians. “Don Scott was a very talented steel guitar player and he knew all the musicians,” Zanzucchi explained as he looks at a contract the Museum Club had with country legend Willie Nelson. “They would come to see him [Scott] traveling from Nashville along Route 66 to Los Angeles or Las Vegas. They would stop and see Don Scott and play for practically nothing.”

Music still rings through this night club. Although you won’t find any hot country artists singing here, you will hear local talent. Karaoke two nights a week and dancing on Thursdays keeps the place hopping. That musical tradition mixes with a few stuffed creations lurking high on the walls. A black bear with a plastic severed arm draws a few eyes along with another bear holding a cowboy hat in its mouth.

Ghosts Among Us

Along with the storied past comes tales of haunting. Scott and his wife Thorna both died in the Museum Club. Thorna tripped on stairs leading from the now blocked off upstairs. She landed on bar chairs and died. Several years later, her husband, sitting in front of the massive rock fireplace, put a gun to his head and took his life. Some say both of their spirits roam the Museum Club.

Martin Zanzucchi has never seen a ghost in the Museum Club, but some of his patrons claim they have. There’s the story of a pretty young woman sitting alone in a booth. People buy her drinks but when the bar tender takes the drink over, the woman is gone. “They’ve [customers] accused of us having trick light show,” Zanzucchi said. There’s yet another tale of the manager sitting in the office late at night and the TV channel changer comes flying through the office door.

And there’s the infamous story of the man living upstairs. “I had a guy living up stairs where the Scott’s used to live and he was held down in the middle of the night by a woman. And the woman says ‘Don’t be afraid. Only the living can hurt you.’” Zanzucchi went on to tell how the man struggled out of bed and jumped out the upstairs window and called him early in the morning. The police came but found no evidence of the mysterious woman. Shortly after that, Zanzucchi’s upstairs tenant packed up and left town.



Excepts from an article in the AZ Daily Sun by Sadie Babits 07/15/05


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