The Shooting Star Saloon is one of the oldest operating businesses in the state of Utah. Its unique interior and local folklore have made it a staple in Huntsville.

The building from which the Shooting Star Saloon currently operates was erected around 1850 as a mercantile shop for Native Americans, fur trappers, fur traders, herders, and the small number of settlers of the town. The mercantile switched to a saloon in 1879, originally named Hoken’s Hole for its owner Hoken Olsen. Hoken (1862-1945) was the son of Norwegian immigrants who had converted to Mormonism and moved to Utah in 1876 as part of the “gathering.” He became a citizen of the US in 1902. Hunstville’s early newspapers are filled with accounts of how “Slippery Hoken'' had once more been fined for selling liquor without a license, or sent to jail for the same. His wife Maria Bingham operated the saloon when Hoken was in jail. 

During the Prohbition Era in the 1920s, alcoholic drinks and card games were enjoyed in secret and a confectionery shop for children was displayed on the top floor of the saloon. However, Hoken continued to be arrested for selling liquor without a license. In 1929, Hoken sold his property to Ben Wood. In 1940, Huntsville’s Carl Stokes moved the saloon upstairs from the basement and named it the Shooting Star. 

The Saloon has had several owners these past years. It is known for its menu, consisting of burgers and hotdogs. There is even a combination of hot dog and burger called the Star Burger. And, of course, there is a full bar of alcoholic beverages. The Saloon’s decor is also of note. Inside, the ceiling is completely covered in dollar bills and has a St. Bernard’s head stuffed and displayed on the wall, belonging to the deceased Buck, a previous Guinness World Record holder for St. Bernards because of its size and weight. “Buck” is a gift from Ernie Schultz who ran a bar in West Yellowstone, Montana. The tables were once used by monks at the nearby Trappist monastery. Antique items such as registers can also be found in the Saloon.

The origins of the dollar bill ceiling are unclear. Some say that Whiskey Joe, a patron from decades orevious, began the trend of tacking dollar bills on the ceiling. Whiskey Joe was notorious for never having enough money to pay for his beer. He'd give the bartender a dollar toward his tab, and it would be tacked up on the ceiling. Whiskey Joe would show up the next day with an additional dollar, and so it continued. A few have claimed that Whiskey Joe continues to haunt the saloon. However, Whiskey Joe's legacy is debated. Huntsville librarian Carol Stoker claims that her uncle Charlie left the first dollar bill on the ceiling on his way to fight in World War II, declaring he would use it when he came back. Whatever the real story, today hundreds of dollar bills blanket the ceiling. Names of patrons penned on each one are a sign that they'll be back for another round.

Images

The Shooting Star Saloon
The Shooting Star Saloon Source:

Shooting Star Saloon, photo by Colbie Hymas, 2019, used with permission.

"Buck"
"Buck" A Saint Bernard who held a Guinness World Record for his size and weight. He died in 1953. Source:

“Buck,” photo by Colbie Hymas, 2019, used with permission.

The Saloon's dollar bill ceiling
The Saloon's dollar bill ceiling A sign of patrons' promise to return Source:

Ceiling of the Shooting Star, photo by Colbie Hymas, 2019, used with permission.

The Saloon's Bar
The Saloon's Bar Source:

The Bar at the Shooting Star, photo by Colbie Hymas, 2019, used with permission.

Location

Metadata

Julia Johnson, Weber State University
, “The Shooting Star Saloon,” Intermountain Histories, accessed April 19, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/683.