The Bob-Tail District: Cheyenne’s Most Infamous Houses of Ill Repute
For decades after it was founded in 1867, the world's oldest profession was one of Cheyenne's biggest industries.
The center of the bustling red-light district was 15th Avenue, which was known in those days as the "Bob-Tail" neighborhood.
According to Jan MacKell, who wrote the book "Red Light Women of the Rocky Mountains", Cheyenne Police issued nearly 100 fines for prostitution during the summer of 1868 alone.
Among the most notorious brothels in the infamous "Hell of Wheels" era was Fat Anne's Palace, where men could purchase an all-night token, which included a bath, for $3.
Fat Anne's was operated by Annie Curley Johnson, who was renowned for her size and her toughness. At nearly 250 lbs., she was willing to fight any man who tried to swindle her. In 1893, she was jailed for tax evasion.
Another one of Cheyenne's most popular soiled doves was Belle Barnard, who plied her trade in 1870s and early 1880s. Barnard eventually left Cheyenne for Denver, where she built one of the largest and most well-known brothels in the country.
In addition to James McDaniel's "House of Mirrors", the most upscale bordello in town was located on the second floor of the Tivoli Building. Constructed in 1892, the Tivoli was advertised as a place for "sophisticated gentlemen".
A sign posted in the Tivoli Saloon read, "“We select our young women from the best backgrounds.They are attractive, intelligent and well versed in enough subjects to provide stimulating conversation with our guests.There is a three drink minimum required to use one of these rooms. Please act like GENTLEMEN and respect the LADIES who are here to make your visit with us more pleasurable.”
After a series of violent crimes and high profile robberies, the town that once turned a blind eye to vice finally cracked down on the world's oldest profession. By 1910, most of the brothels on 15th Street had been shut down.