Important history in brothel tours

Mental illness. Child labor. Discrimination. Poverty. These are but a few of the uncomfortable, distasteful, and even shameful chapters of our history. If we find them unsettling, does that mean we ignore them? No. For if we do that, how are we to move forward and bring about any change?  

Sex work is another subject that can be difficult to grasp. Sex work had a 104-year history in Deadwood, from 1876 to 1980. It was illegal, and some would say immoral, but it had a definite presence in the community. 

Madams and prostitutes first streamed into Deadwood by wagon train and stayed until the introduction of the Ford Escort. They became embedded in the community, leaving an indelible imprint. The history of sex work in Deadwood is filled with twists and turns and unexpected revelations around every corner. Often times it’s brutal, incomprehensible, and even shocking. Then there are the moments when it’s poignant, crystal clear, and endearing. 

Deadwood History, Inc. is an organization that strives to tell the complete and accurate history of Deadwood. We would be remiss to conceal this topic any longer. If we continue to ignore our history, merely letting it erode, where does it end, what will remain; a false version of the truth?  

Additionally, sex trafficking and sex work have only one thing in common: sex. One is a human rights violation that can happen to anyone; the other is an agreed-upon arrangement between individuals.

Carolyn Weber

Executive director, Deadwood History, Inc.


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