Silverton’s Mining Boom – Blair Street and Prostitution
Silverton’s Notorious Blair Street and ProstitutionSilverton's mining boom began in 1860, and soon, Blair Street was crowded with saloons, gambling halls, and bordellos—rang with the raucous clamor of young, single men. Ladies “worked” this stretch and were considered a social necessity in Silverton, just like other mining towns during this era.
The Prostitutes of Silverton Mining BoomThe women who took on prostitution as a way to make a living lived a “hard” life. Their lives were filled with drug abuse, violence, loneliness, and disease. Yet, fines from “their businesses” kept town coffers full. And though they were often harshly judged, these women stepped in as nurses and caregivers when necessary, such as during the 1918 flu epidemic. Their efforts saved numerous lives during this time.
Life for women in mining townsHistorians of the 1980s began to include women in their tales, but their roles were mainly hidden. For the most part, women were portrayed as housewives. However, the story of the gold rush was not one of homesteading families, compared to the story of pioneering the American West. To complicate these women's already compromised situation, they were not legally allowed to vote or legally allowed to stake gold claims either. Instead, when women became victims of abuse, society blamed the females as being sex workers. (How History Has Failed to Tell the Story of the Gold Rush Women, Brian Castner)
Women in mining towns had few choices for making a living. At this time, women could be:
- Married, a housewife.
- A school teacher (single).
- Work various low-paying labor jobs.
- A prostitute.