One way to do Skagway – Non PC Edition

Few who know me would disagree that there is no secret about me getting out and enjoying myself when ashore from a cruise ship.  It’s just that both my wife and I had such a good time in the Red Onion Saloon in on our cruise visit to Skagway that I thought it may be worthwhile to share.

Obviously this historical venue is not going to be  every one’s ‘cup of tea’ so as to speak and I would genuinely suggest that any reader with either a prudish outlook or having a faux moral position may not wish to read any further.

The Red Onion Saloon is situated on the main street running through Skagway.  It is a lively and vibrant tourist attraction easily within walking distance from where the cruise ships berth, you can’t miss it…

In fact a visitor would be hard pressed to miss it. Located on the corner of 2nd & Broadway, the Red Onion is a favorite among visitors and locals alike. Built in 1897, the Red Onion Saloon operated as one the finest bordellos in Skagway and though times have changed,  the spirit has not.  The present building is actually the original building of the famous saloon from which Diamond Lil herself rose to fame. The actual position of the saloon is slightly different, the original being rolled down the high street on logs from its original position.

In addition to the sale of beers and spirits, the Red Onion Saloon also serves meals…

… has a thriving souvenir shop…

…and of course, offers  tours of the ‘upstairs facilities. Well I suppose the secret could not remain so for long. Of course the Red Onion Saloon also operated as a brothel in those bygone times of the Yukon and Klondyke  gold rush days…


So, tempted by the prospect of something a little ‘out of the ordinary’, and armed with my trusty Nikon, how could I resist this offer…

You’re damned right, I couldn’t.

One of our lovely Madams escorted me on a tour of the upstairs and told stories of the famous women who endured the Klondike Gold Rush while helping the miners quench more than their thirst.  Amongst many of the upstairs attractions those who take the tour get to see Diamond Lil’s bed…

…and the remaining collection of ‘dolls’ that had a significance when they were used as an indication, behind the bar, of which rooms were available…

Here is how it worked. In order to keep track of which girls were busy, the bartender kept ten dolls on the back bar, one for each of the girls in each of the rooms. When a girl was with a customer, her doll was laid on its back. When she sent her money down the tube, the doll was returned to the upright position signaling to the waiting prospectors that she was ready for business. The bartender safeguarded the girl’s earnings, usually $5.00, preferably in gold.

Needless to say that during the course of our stay I had paid great heed to one particular notice behind the bar…

…so, prior to our departure I duly deposited my gratuity in one of the better looking envelopes I have ever placed a gratuity…

Disgraceful I hear the cry.

But do I care?

Not a jot, we had a great time and if you have any life in you on your next visit to Skagway, go and take a look.

PS. I got the T-shirt to prove it.

Life is for living, don’t miss the Red Onion Saloon on your visit to Skagway.

2 responses to “One way to do Skagway – Non PC Edition

  1. Pingback: Regent Seven Seas Alaska Cruise | Solent Richard's Cruise Blog·

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