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Historic Butte Red-Light District

Historic Butte Red-Light District

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Historic Butte Red-Light District

144 pages
28 minutes
Jul 28, 2020


This edition is an intimate photo examination of the infamous sex trade once nationally recognized during the late 19th and early 20th century. Over 135 current photographs document the remnants of the famed Copper mining town’s prostitution core. Vickers’ work details historical anecdotes, narratives on colorful personages and perspective on an era when prostitution was locally institutionalized.

The remaining Dumas Brothel is a profiled parlor house noteworthy for its operational longevity between 1890-1982. The Dumas is the longest tenured American house of prostitution. Founded by two French Canadian brothers, the property weathered numerous reform movements and attempts towards forced closure by governmental authorities. Owner tax evasion ultimately shuttered the property. Renovation efforts are being undertaken to restore the building, much to the chagrin of paranormal spirits that haunt the lodgings.

Across the road is the Blue Range Building, the last street-facing example of the lowest extremity of prostitution once employed within the district. The seven sets of ground floor doors and adjacent windows housed segregated cubicles called cribs. Diminutive cribs accommodated only a single bed and an occasional washbasin and chamber pot. Lower esteemed prostitutes serviced clients from these utilitarian spaces. Their clientele consisted primarily of common laborers and miners with modest financial means.

Butte’s prostitution industry reinforced a rigid hierarchy of distinguishing elite mistresses for the affluent and influential, from lowly street solicitors. The lifestyle of sex professionals was plagued by drug addiction, financial debt, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, abortion, violence and abuse by their patrons and jealousy-motivated clients. Many of the younger women harbored unrealistic expectations that a client would eventually fall in love with them enabling their escape. Suicide was common even amongst the highest regarded women within such a cannibalistic environment,

During the turn of the twentieth century, Butte was one of the largest Rocky Mountain population centers. Its licentious reputation mirrored contemporary Las Vegas. Unlike many western frontier settlements, cowboy culture made minimal intrusion. Instead, the mining industry and extreme winters created an atmosphere hometown born and raised motorcycle daredevil Evil Knievel described as “gritty”, more resembling a Pennsylvania steel region community.

Butte’s current leading tourist attraction is the Berkeley Pit, an enormous open cavity copper mine that was operationally closed in 1982. The seeping adjacent waters into the exposed mine are laced with toxic heavy metals and chemicals leaving the region in a state of suspended environmental danger.

The commentary attempts to sort legend from fact in the portrayal of neighboring Chinatown and periphery properties. Galena, Arizona, Mercury and Main Streets defined the red-light district’s historical parameters. The decline of the neighborhood is exemplified by an abundance of vacant spacing and parking lots. Amidst the decay, sprouting stories and speculation recreate an epoch when thousands of desperate men and women trawled the sidewalks and alleyways in search of company, diversion, and sexual release.

Butte’s red-light district is a haunting environment with a complex past. History and the consequence of sustained decadence are embedded throughout the phantom architecture symbolized by room and building tracings on still standing relics.

Jul 28, 2020

Despre autor

Visual Artist, Writer and Photographer Marques Vickers is a California native presently living in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle, Washington regions.He was born in 1957 and raised in Vallejo, California. He is a 1979 Business Administration graduate from Azusa Pacific University in the Los Angeles area. Following graduation, he became the Public Relations and ultimately Executive Director of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce between 1979-84. He subsequently became the Vice President of Sales for AsTRA Tours and Travel in Westwood between 1984-86.Following a one-year residence in Dijon, France where he studied at the University of Bourgogne, he began Marquis Enterprises in 1987. His company operations have included sports apparel exporting, travel and tour operations, wine brokering, publishing, rare book and collectibles reselling. He has established numerous e-commerce, barter exchange and art websites including MarquesV.com, ArtsInAmerica.com, InsiderSeriesBooks.com, DiscountVintages.com and WineScalper.com.Between 2005-2009, he relocated to the Languedoc region of southern France. He concentrated on his painting and sculptural work while restoring two 19th century stone village residences. His figurative painting, photography and sculptural works have been sold and exhibited internationally since 1986. He re-established his Pacific Coast residence in 2009 and has focused his creative productivity on writing and photography.His published works span a diverse variety of subjects including true crime, international travel, California wines, architecture, history, Southern France, Pacific Coast attractions, fiction, auctions, fine art marketing, poetry, fiction and photojournalism.He has two daughters, Charline and Caroline who presently reside in Europe.

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Historic Butte Red-Light District - Marques Vickers

Historic Butte Red-Light District

Published by Marques Vickers at Smashwords

Copyright 2020 Marques Vickers



Table of Contents

The Corrupting and Decadent Sex Trade Industry of Butte, Montana

Research Sources

The Dumas Brothel

Blue Range Building

Butte Daily Post Building

Butte Tin Shop Complex


Silver Dollar Saloon

The Royal Parlor House

Southwestern District: Saloon Corner

Pleasant (Venus) Alley

Lower South Main at East Mercury Street

The Surrounding Neighborhood Buildings

About the Author

The Corrupting and Decadent Sex Trade Industry of Butte, Montana

The subject of commemorating historical prostitution, much less acknowledging its existence, scarcely enters into American public dialog.

Sentimentality and nostalgia are notably missing. The sex industry sustains its rooting system amidst the barest strata of topsoil. Prostitution has historically represented the meanest and basest levels of human experience. The shadows from human collateral damage are immeasurable.

Ironic and somehow appropriate, Butte was once acknowledged globally as a magnet for this stark and severe commerce. The city seemed atypical from western lore. It was never identified with traditional cowboy culture. In an observation offered by hometown raised Evil Knievel, the community was a gritty environment, more recognizant of the Pennsylvania steel region than a frontier settlement.

Knieval, a trailblazing twentieth century promoter and motorcycle daredevil, summarized his hometown in an autobiography: The charm of Butte always was the fact that there was no charm.

Life in Butte was grueling and relentless. Residents were flinty tough and illusions obscured. A complete absence of pretense is endearing to those appreciating plainspoken candor. Butte was ideal for individuals rejecting conformity and society’s dictated morality. Existence within a mining community was harsh, rigorous and stripped of idealism. Survival or departure became the two alternatives. Transience in such an environment was commonplace and well suited towards drifters, alienated souls and individuals with meager prospects.

Copper mining dominated the Butte economy and controlled the politics of the community. Today, additional minerals are mined including zinc, manganese, lead, silver and gold. The extraction process has changed substantially since the days of treacherous underground shafts. Hillsides are methodically stripped in layers and sometimes with hydraulic pumping. Risk and danger have not been completely eradicated. The threatened base has broadened.

In 1982, the Berkeley Pit, an enormous open cavity copper mine was permanently closed. Groundwater from surrounding aquifers began to slowly accumulate and seep into the crater. These waters are highly acidic and laced with toxic heavy metals and chemicals. The concentration has been classified as an environmental hazard. The ongoing cleanup is currently a federal Superfund site. The poisonous brew threatens to become a more extensive disaster.

The seepage has been estimated to eventually intermingle into the region’s natural water table within potentially three years. These catastrophic consequences may include polluting the local groundwater sources and particularly the Silver Bow Creek. The creek feeds into the headwaters of the statewide

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