West Gone Wild: Rare Photographs of "Trollops" in the American West

Much of what Calamity Jane claimed to have witnessed, or participated in, cannot be proved. It is known she was illiterate, an itinerant alcoholic and occasional prostitute. Daily Mail
Julia Bulette was known as the original ‘hooker with a heart of gold’ and was the only single woman when she arrived in Virginia City, Nevada in 1859 aged 27 and was in much demand by the miners, soon becoming a prostitute. Daily Mail
Two Alaskan beauties show off their wares for the cameras. Women heading for Dawson City or Ketchikan made perilous journeys to Alaska, often traveling for months to reach their destinations. The trip was worth it, for those girls of the mining camps who earned better money. truewestmagazine
In 1886, soiled dove Bessie Colvin (shown) left Alice Abbott’s house of prostitution in El Paso, Texas, to go work for Etta Clark. After following her to Clark’s place across the street, Abbott punched the madam in the face. The angry Clark returned with a gun and shot Abbott in the groin. El Pasoans sided with Clark, perhaps because the tiny woman shooting the 200-pound Abbott caused some to chuckle; on May 12, a jury found Clark not guilty on grounds of self-defense. Robert G. McCubbin Collection
In Cripple Creek, Colorado, prostitutes and dance hall girls were required to wear aprons over their short dresses, lest anyone be offended at seeing their ankles. These gals and their cohorts are having a fine time at Crapper Jack’s. The famed Laura Bell McDaniel of Colorado City is said to be among them. truewestmagazine
In most red light districts, French girls were segregated to their own houses, often by choice. French women of the demimonde in the West sometimes charged a bit more but boasted better knowledge of sex and much cleaner houses than their American counterparts. truewestmagazine
A Jerome, Arizona, harlot shows off her finery in this photograph that was probably taken in the red light district on Hull Avenue. Some have speculated she may have been intoxicated, given that she is leaning on a wall and appears to have been held steady by the woman behind her. truewestphotography
Alice Abbott (left) kept a photo album of her days as a madam in El Paso, Texas. The photo of Bessie Colvin on p. 24 appeared in it, as did one of the girls above, which she labeled “Lovers All,” next to a heart with the letter “A.” That symbol, which appears on numerous pages in the album, possibly denoted customers and girls who were extra special to her. Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection
A district judge who visited Miles City in 1881 described it as a “lively little town of 1,000 inhabitants, but utterly demoralized and lawless. It is not safe to be out on the street at night. It has forty-two saloons and there are on an average about a half-dozen fights every night.” These two soiled doves in Miles City were among the “wild women of Montana’s frontier” featured in Lael Morgan’s Wanton West book. Chicago Review Press / Wanton West
Girls of the row gained a great many admirers in their profession. Graffiti of the 19th century paid tribute to the red light ladies, on the sides of buildings, under stairs and in the rooms where they had worked. When a kitchen rug was taken up some years ago in Cripple Creek, Colorado, this “painted lady” was found underneath. truewestmagazine
Born in Knickerbocker, Texas, Laura Bullion worked as a prostitute in Fannie Porter’s famed brothel in nearby San Antonio. It was here that Laura began a relationship with outlaw and member of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, William ‘News’ Carver. Daily Mail