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The Sierra Silver Mines of Wallace »« A Walk About Historic Wallace

The Oasis Bordello Museum in Wallace

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The History Of Prostitution

Word had spread around Wallace that the Feds were on their way in, and the town’s bordellos had to close up fast. Under the vigilant eyes of Madame Ginger, the working girls of The Oasis grabbed what they could carry and left everything else behind. Their departure marked a sudden and unexpected end to prostitution in Wallace. The year was 1988.


For the next five years, until being sold in 1993, The Oasis was locked up and undisturbed. The building’s new owner found everything inside the former bordello just as Madame Ginger and her girls had left it — clothes, toiletries, personal items, drawings, Atari systems, price lists, liquor, even the now-rancid food in the refrigerator. He realized almost immediately that he had a ready-made museum on his hands.

It goes without saying that, in 1988, prostitution in America was completely illegal, even in out-of-the-way Wallace, Idaho. But Madame Ginger had been careful to make generous “donations” to the police department, and was one of the town’s prime philanthropists. As such, she was popular with locals and could even call upon the law for assistance, when needed. For all intents and purposes, The Oasis was a legitimate business… and what a business it was! With five girls working sixteen-hour shifts, profits were estimated to clear a million a year.

And that’s despite the competitive prices. Even those of us who’ve never, ahem, procured a Lady of the Night understand that $15 for an eight-minute session isn’t bad. During our fascinating tour of the Bordello, we found the price list posted up in Madame Ginger’s bedroom. Eight minutes was “the basic” session (let’s not kid ourselves, guys, that’s plenty of time). But there were other variations; you could go up to an hour, have a bubble bath, or purchase extra positions. The basic fare only included missionary.

Prices For Paid Love

The tour was compelling, often hilarious, occasionally sad and completely surprising. I had been expecting a staid, informative presentation of the prostitution racket in Idaho’s mining towns; not a bordello as it looked while still operating. We saw the girls’ music collections (Lionel Richie, Diana Ross), their reading selections (almost exclusively romance novels, which broke my heart), and wardrobes. We saw where they bathed, where they ate and, of course, where they worked.

Madame Ginger had expected to quickly return and resume business, but the FBI stuck around for years conducting a wide-ranging investigation into Wallace’s corrupt sheriff. When the Feds finally left, times had changed and bordellos were no longer a welcome enterprise in Wallace. With the money she had saved, Ginger moved to Coeur d’Alene and lived out the rest of her years in style.

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Paid Love On Time
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October 16, 2012 at 2:51 am
  • October 16, 2012 at 4:05 amDiane

    I just had to Google A-200 pyrinate liquid… learned that it is LICE KILLING SHAMPOO. This was both an  interesting and sad look into a way of life most don’t think about.

  • October 16, 2012 at 12:57 pmChristopher

    Holy smokes! What a great experience, especially as a glance at what the 1980’s was really like. Sounds like Madame Ginger was a contemporary of Miss Mona from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas!

  • October 20, 2012 at 5:59 pmLAVA

    What’s up with the WHS marching band uniform hanging on the closet door?  LOL

    • October 20, 2012 at 10:34 pmJuergen

      Madame Ginger was a big supporter of the local community and also helped the Wallace High School. The school insisted to have a uniform submitted to the museum to show their appreciation.

    • October 21, 2013 at 6:07 pmjanet

      Ginger (madam) purchased them. ginger was very helpful for our community

  • October 28, 2012 at 8:13 pmAngela MacIsaac (@that_angela)

    Eesh … why do I find mannequins so creepy?

  • August 12, 2013 at 9:13 pmJeri

    Thanks for the great post. I grew up in Wallace, and I was in the fifth grade when the feds raided the town. I’ve toured the bordello once, but plan on doing so again with my husband this Labor Day weekend when I go for a visit. Plus, I hope to base my second novel on some sort of scenario that involves Wallace’s scandalous past. 

  • June 3, 2014 at 12:39 amKen Trickey

    I was in the Air Force stationed at Fairchild AFB in Spokane. Only 19 in 1962 but had a car. We were all under 20 years old and I was still a virgin. Knocked on the door of the Oasis (at street level) and we were allowed to come upstairs. I think all of us were virgins. I had the car and out-ranked all the others, so when the paraded all the girls in front of us I had first choice. I picked “Jet” a beautiful dark-haried lady. Had a great time “arount the world” for $10. One of my greatest memories.

    • December 23, 2014 at 4:03 pmBarry

      I liked your comments in the section about the Oasis.  It inspired me to post my memories of losing my virginity in Wallace.  In my case, it was at the Luxette rooms.  Check it out, if you like.  I wonder how many guys lost their virginity in Wallace.  Probably a lot.

  • June 29, 2014 at 8:18 pmTessa

    One of the old girls who worked there came back for the tour. When she got to her old room she grabbed the black pegisus statue next to her old bed flipped it over and grabbed her tips out! LOL All of the lamps the girls would keep their money in which is why those doll lamps are in there. :) This tour is worth it I just loved it I took my Husband and then we went to 1313 resturaunt and bar. I can not wait to go back! So fun to learn history! :)

  • September 28, 2014 at 4:39 amLee

    The first time I visited Wallace was some time in the late 70s or early 80s. How I heard about the bordello was when I was in the military the Army Times came out with a off limits list all over the united states. When I got out I had to see for myself. In the oasis I got the privilege of meeting a blond bombshell named Tanya. I think she was the nicest female I have ever met. She charged me $75.00 for one hour. She was terrific. I tried to find her a year later, and found out she married one of her clients. God Bless her

  • September 29, 2014 at 12:58 amLee

    They should hire some of the ex prostitutes as tour guides, they probably know more than anybody on what really went on. I can still see that lady in my mind that I visited many years ago. Haven’t visited the museum yet, but its on my bucket list. Thanks

  • December 23, 2014 at 2:27 pmBarry

    I grew up in Wallace.  While home from college during the summer of 1971, I lost my virginity to a lady at the Luxette Rooms, two doors down from the Oasis.  I never did go to the Oasis but did go back to the Luxette as well the U & I rooms and the Lux rooms over the next several years.  It was part of my “coming of age.”  Somewhere in the 90’s my wife and I toured the Oasis Museum.  Like I said, I had never gone to the Oasis but the tour did evoke great memories.  Yes, my wife was and is aware of my past. 

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