Ladies in Red

Freaky Foot Tours doesn't sell ads. When you buy through links on our site we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you

Soiled Doves, Bawdy Houses, Painted Women–these colorful if condemning terms all refer to the same sordid business– politics. Oops! I mean, prostitution. Like towns throughout the United States, Flagstaff has had a storied past with the world’s oldest profession.

In the 1880s, prostitution was kept mostly to south of the railroad tracks. There were houses of ill repute (I think it’d be a stretch to call them brothels) and individual women who walked the streets and hiked their skirts. However, as the town looked to incorporate in 1894, a more righteous citizenry emerged and prostitution came under the supervisors’ microscope. This was due in great part from lobbying by church groups, who also had it in for the saloons and gambling halls, 

Platt Cline’s wonderful book, Mountain Town, details Flagstaff’s starts and stops as the town began enacting ordinances and leveling fees against the above entities. According to Cline, most business establishments ignored the heavy taxes at first ($15 a quarter for saloons; $15 a month for houses of prostitution.) It later escalated to threats from the saloon owners to take their businesses elsewhere. However, the council stood firm on the issue. Soon most of the bar owners caved and grudgingly paid up. The ladies in red were another story. When they threatened to pack up and take their trade to Williams, the council reassessed their position and lowered the women’s taxes considerably. This was considered a win-win for everyone –except for the more militant churchgoers. However, the reformers sat back and bided their time and, in 1895, struck again. 

In 1895, the town council passed ordinance ten, which was a far-reaching, restrictive ban on everything from profane language to opium to women entering saloons except to pass through to an eating establishment. There was also an interesting clause that pertained to women singing in taverns and saloons. As I researched further it appears that, in the old West’s world of prostitution, there were various “categories” the painted women fell under. Those who were singers and dancers were paid a commission on the number of drinks sold to the male customers by the bartenders. The initial tax levied on the saloon owners who featured singers was quite high. While it was later reduced, it’s clear that anyone contributing to keeping a man parked on a bar stool faced harsh penalties.

Are you ready to experience the paranormal like never before? Join us on our Freaky Foot Tour and discover the dark and eerie history of Flagstaff.

As you walk through the streets, our eccentric guide will take you to the most haunted locations and share spine-chilling stories of ghostly sightings and unexplained events. From restless spirits to phantom footsteps, you'll hear it all on this tour.

But beware, as you venture deeper into the haunted corners of the city, you may feel a cold breath on your neck or a ghostly touch on your shoulder. Our tour is not for the faint of heart, so make sure you bring your bravest self.

Join us on our Freaky Foot Tour and experience the unknown. Book now and prepare to be spooked!