Skagway, Alaska is best known for its gold rush era. If you will visit this southern city in Alaska, you will see a lot of the preserved buildings in the past and you may even join some of the popular cruises. Aside from that, you may also go on a dog sledding tour, go on a day hike, watch the salmon run, enjoy the wildlife, and many more.
A scenic view in Skagway, Alaska. (Link: https://www.silversea.com/cruise-to/skagway-alaska.html)
One of the most visited places in Skagway, Alaska is the Red Onion Saloon. This saloon has a very unique history and offers chilling experiences. Would you want to know more?
The Red Onion Saloon as seen from the outside. (Link: https://www.thealaskalife.com/blog/brothel-museum-red-onion-saloon/)
The History Of The Red Onion Saloon
The Red Onion Saloon today is a brothel-themed restaurant and is visited because of its history and the alleged paranormal activities happening here. It also has a Brothel Museum and if you want to know more about why people actually go to this touristy spot, read on.
The Red Onion Saloon started operating in 1898 at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush. It was the most exclusive brothel at that time. It was popular to the miners because the area where it is built is tagged as the Gateway to the Klondike. They served alcohol there but it was not the only thing on the menu because the second floor was reserved for another kind of thirst.
Aside from offering services from women, The Red Onion Saloon was far different than the other establishments because of a unique feature the management used. Every day, there were 10 dolls that were placed on the bar in the first floor. Each doll represents the ladies that worked in the upstairs rooms. If a customer wants to have some time with one of the ladies, he would choose a doll. That doll will then be laid down to indicate that the woman is occupied. Once the customers goes back to the first floor, the doll would be in an upright position again to let the other clients know she is once again available.
Some of the dolls at the Red Onion Saloon. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.co.za/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g60877-d1066548-i208658820-Red_Onion_Saloon-Skagway_Alaska.html)
Two years after The Red Onion Saloon started with its operations, the mining business in the area slowly died down so the miners relocated to another area where gold was supposedly more abundant.
During the Second World War, the building where the Red Onion Saloon once was had to be used as a barracks for soldiers. Later, the same building was used as a laundry shop, a bakery, a union hall, a television station, and a gift shop.
By 1980, the new owner of the building, Jan Wrentmore, got a liquor license so The Red Onion Saloon was once again a bar with the addition of the historic brothel museum. The Red Onion Saloon is themed like a brothel so the servers wear corsets and the atmosphere is said to be “lively, sexy and teasing.” Even the menu at The Red Onion Saloon is named after women and references during the Klondike Gold Rush era.
Some of the workers at the Red Onion Saloon. (Link: http://www.skagwayalaskatours.com/blog/ask-a-tour-salesperson-where-is-that-onion-place/)
A Recognizable Spirit In The Red Onion Saloon
The only entity that is said to live in The Red Onion Saloon to this day is that of Lydia, one of the madams during the time when The Red Onion Saloon offered services from prostitutes. Lydia is said to haunt the second floor of the brothel.
One of the rooms of the madams at the Red Onion Saloon. (Link: https://redonionsaloonhauntings.wordpress.com/would-you-like-to-submit-a-photograph/)
Accordingly, footsteps have been heard on the second floor even if no one is there. The strong scent of perfume also wafts through the air whenever her presence is noted. Also, Lydia’s presence results to extreme cold spots and this is usually where the smell of the perfume comes from.
A photo of a worker at the Red Onion Saloon with a group of tourists at the hallway on the second floor of the building. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g60877-d3187588-i193138000-Red_Onion_Saloon_Brothel_Museum-Skagway_Alaska.html)
One of the instances when Lydia allegedly disturbed the peace in the second floor of The Red Onion Saloon resulted to police officers being called to check on the situation. It was such a great disturbance that it was initially believed that an intruder was on the second floor of The Red Onion Saloon. Accordingly, when the police officers approached the stairs, they saw a figure running down the hall and into a room of a former madam. The police officers followed that figure and when they got there, the room was empty. The police believe that it was Lydia’s spirit because it was impossible to escape from that room or hide from the police.
The stairs going up the second floor of the Red Onion Saloon. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g60877-d1066548-i264860738-Red_Onion_Saloon-Skagway_Alaska.html)
Lydia is also said to water the plants because there have been a lot of instances when the hostess of The Red Onion Saloon would find the soil damp as if someone just watered the plants. None of the staff members claimed to have watered the plants to the ghost of Lydia is believed to have done such act.
Sometimes, people also see Lydia’s spirit walking around the rooms in the second floor. She also becomes quite cruel and hostile towards men. It is unclear if Lydia died in the building or her spirit made its way back to where she used to work. It is also unknown if she has had bad experiences with the men she served when she was still a prostitute that is why she is hostile towards male tourists.
The Tours At The Red Onion Saloon
The Red Onion Saloon offers different tours. The madams or the female hostesses in the bar and restaurant are the ones guiding the visitors during the tours.
One of the tours is a walking tour and the madams would guide tourists in the historic streets and back alleys of Skagway. As part of the tour, the Brothel Museum will be visited by the tourists. They can look at the halls and the bedrooms of the former madams. There are photos and relics of the original women who worked there.
During a tour, one of the employees sat on the bed of one of the rooms of the former madams. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g60877-d1066548-i49031815-Red_Onion_Saloon-Skagway_Alaska.html)
If you are not up for the walking tour, you can simply join the Quickie Brothel Tour. One of the madams would announce to the crowd that they should go up to the second floor and walk the “stairway to heaven.” Tourists are given such experience to see how the miners got to the rooms of the ladies who would give them what they are asking for. In one of the rooms, there is a silver dress left behind by one of the madams. Also, the dolls that were used at the brothel in the past remain to be seen at the Red Onion Saloon.
Usually, the brothel tours start at 10 in the morning and every hour after depending on the influx of tourists. The tour costs $10 and lasts for 20 minutes.