Located in the gold mining town of Skagway, Alaska the Red Onion Saloon was originally a saloon on the main floor and a brothel on the second floor when it opened in 1898.
Lucky for us, few things have changed at the infamous Red Onion.
While it is no longer a brothel, the upper floor has been maintained the way it looked when it was a house of ill repute. Visitors can get guided tours from the “madams” of the Red Onion.
The lower level, while not explicitly a saloon, is a restaurant and pub with the original bar.
The Red Onion is also said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman known as Lydia, a former working gal.
The spirited staff of the venue delight in giving tours and talking about the Saloon’s storied and haunted past.
Below, some of the ladies of the house are shown seated on the historic wood-carved bar.
You get the sense from looking at these photos that this would be a very fun place to work. Heck, it would be a very fun place to visit!
Here’s a look at the main dining area (without people) so you can get a sense of the space.
But what are those things displayed high on the wall?
Have a closer look…
That is The Red Onions’ prized collection of chamber pots. Yes indeed, actual historic bedpans.
Not the most appetizing thing to have in an eatery but kind of goes with the risque-themed decor.
From the antique bar to the collection of prostitute memorabilia, this place is full of historic quirkiness.
If you are a paying customer, one of the charming madams will make an announcement from the back stairs and then lead you (and the group) up the “stairway to heaven”.
When a tour is in progress, they switch the red light on. Wink, wink.
Guests can walk the same floors as the prostitutes and their patrons of the late 1800s, hear entertaining tales of the women who worked in those very rooms, and see the many artifacts they left behind.
The second floor of the building is an absolute time capsule and many of the original decor items remain – even the wallpaper.
There is so much to see…
Below, some of the actual tokens the prostitutes used are on display…
It is absolutely FANTASTIC that the owners of this place have kept the upper floor in original condition. Although deteriorated over time, there is something so fascinating about being able to see the rooms as they were in the late 1800s.
A tour of this former brothel – frozen in time – is a must-do if you visit Skagway.
After all, it’s the ladies who make this place!
Long live the Red Onion Saloon… an Alaskan original!