brothels in idaho in 1989

Openly-run brothels? In Idaho? In 1989? It turns out local tradition is a powerful force. Here’s part of an article from the Idaho Statesman in 1989:

Wallace defends prostitution: “A mining town needs brothels”
By Stephen Stuebner
The Idaho Statesman

WALLACE — In this once-stately northern Idaho mining town, townsfolk defend time-honored traditions with vigor.

Nobody dares to know their hard-rock mining legacy, their turn-of-the-century buildings or … their whorehouses.

Priests and politicians, including Gov. Cecil Andrus, have tried repeatedly in the past 15 to 20 years to board up Wallacce’s famous brothels with little success. Even when the silver mines closed in the early 1980s, causing the economy to reel from 40 percent unemployment, the brothels somehow survived.

Prostitution is a hush-hush business in most parts of Idaho, but in Wallace, people are unabashedly bullish on brothels. Residents are proud to preserve the world’s oldest profession while keeping it discreet — off the streets and out of the bars.

“A mining town needs (brothels),” said a woman who works across the street from the U&I brothel, the oldest remaining house in town. “I’ve lived here since 1945. I’m a firm believer in it.”

“I’ve never worried about my daughters walking down the street at 11 or 12 o’clock at night,” said Dale Levigne, owner of Osborn Drug in Wallace. “The incidence of rape in this town is almost nil.”

“Even the goody-goody two-shoes will say they don’t like (the brothels), but they’ll rigorously defend them.”

Stanley K. Smith, president of Sierra Silver Mine Tours, said “Oh, they’re a lot of fun. You never see the girls on the streets. They certainly don’t bother anybody.”

“Trucks are stopping there all the time, and you know they’re not stopping there for hamburgers.”

(Apparently the brothels were finally successfully closed by the “goody-goody two-shoes” about two years after this article appeared.)

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