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The History of Missoula’s Oxford Saloon

Oxford Saloon/Facebook
Oxford Saloon/Facebook

It is almost like the Oxford Saloon is truly a legend. Researchers have searched for the origins of the Oxford, but are still unclear on exactly when the business started in Missoula. Everyone can agree that it has been around for A LONG TIME! Longer than Montana has even been a state. Dating back to as early as 1883.

According to Jo Ann, the current owner of the Oxford Saloon, the original owner operated a chuck wagon on the banks of the Clark Fork river. The customers included hungry lumberjacks and working class people looking for an affordable meal. The Oxford eventually made it’s way to Higgins Ave in 1907, just one block south of where it sits today.

According to the Oxford’s website

The worn floors could attest to the hundreds of people who frequented the establishment. Spittoons were nestled along the foot rail of the bar, as well as other strategic places. The clientele; mostly hard working men who came to get a decent meal or drink at a working man’s wages. Intermingled were lawyers, Judges, doctors, University Students, and yes, even a U. S. Senator, later to become an Ambassador to Japan.

In 1955, the Oxford moved to it’s current location on the corner of Pine st and Higgins ave. As the story goes, the bar was picked up by patrons of the Oxford and moved 1 block up the street. With everyone’s drinks still sitting on the bar, the patrons finished their drinks after the bar was installed in it’s current location.

The Oxford Saloon is truly a Old West legend and a jewel of the Five Valleys. If you have never stopped into the Oxford, you cannot truly consider yourself a Missoulian until you do.

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