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Idaho's hidden history perfectly preserved at Oasis Bordello Museum

Posted at 7:22 PM, Jul 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-06 16:43:29-04

An illegal mining town brothel up until 1988, the Oasis Bordello Museum is now a time machine where you can step into the past and view the world through the eyes of a working girl. Owners keep the doors open to invite visitors inside an undeniable part of Wallace, Idaho's rich and complex mining history.

"Each girl saw an average of 40 customers a night," Linda Hornbuckle, a tour guide at the Oasis Bordello Museum, said. 

Wallace, located in Shoshone County, is part of the Silver Valley mining district. The district produced more silver than any other mining district in the United States.

Hornbuckle says, as an active mining community during the turn of the century, men outnumbered women 200 to one. 

A woman known as "Madam Ginger" ran the Oasis until it closed.

"Ginger told us herself that most of the customers were out of here in five to eight minutes," Hornbuckle said. 

A price list or "menu" is displayed in Ginger's room at the Oasis. Eight minutes "Straight, No Frills" with one of Ginger's girls cost fifteen dollars in 1988. 

Though thinking about what went on inside the Oasis might make visitors blush, the locals refuse to hide what some may consider a shameful past. 

"You see things such as little stuffed animals on the girls' beds," Hornbuckle said. "Even on their lock-boxes, where they kept their money, there's, like, little stickers of Strawberry Shortcake, and it's, like, yeah, they were human beings. I think it does humanize a little bit more, and see that they're normal human beings just like me and you, they just chose to do something different than you would have done. 

The Oasis Bordello Museum is located at 605 Cedar Street in Wallace and is open May through October.