Ash Meadows Sky Ranch

Ash Meadows Sky Ranch Abandoned Brothel, Nevada
Outside of the cribs building.


“We were six prostitutes in a ranch house in the middle of the desert, isolated from the rest of the world, screwing frustrated and horny men for money. That was our life and as far as we were concerned it was as normal as Rice Krispies.” -Vickie Star, brothel owner

Vickie Star’s is a story of a woman who moved west from her Missouri farming upbringing and eventually ended up owning two separate Nevada brothels before retiring to live off of the money she saved from her years in the business.

Born to a Garrison, Missouri family in 1923, at age 16 Vickie received an invitation from her older sister to move into her apartment in San Francisco. Once in San Francisco, she enrolled in school to become a nun, but soon dropped out. A year later, while working at a donut shop, she met a regular customer, a well-known pimp, and soon took a bus to Reno, Nevada to get married.

Vickie, by her own decision, soon found herself working as a prostitute in a local house. During the World War II era, western houses existed in a legal gray area where vice enforcement allowed some of them to exist provided they kept out of trouble and made payments in some form in exchange for looking the other way. However these relationships were capricious and often short-lived. Over the next few years, Star would work in houses from Merced and Delano in California’s Central Valley to Stockton and Vallejo to Klamath Falls, Oregon and as far north as Seattle.

In 1948, Star moved to Winnemucca, Nevada about 150 miles northeast of Reno to consider purchasing a legal brothel, believing that Nevada’s legal prostitution would allow her to work without worrying about the intrusion of the police. However she quickly learned that the sheriff owned one of the town’s brothels and would close other houses if he felt that business at his house was too slow.

While on a road trip back to California, Star learned of the Korean War and of the increase of nuclear testing in southern Nevada. She immediately changed course and drove to Beatty, Nevada, a town about 100 miles north of Las Vegas not far from Jackass Flats where the military housed its personnel and tested its nuclear weapons. Feeling that the conditions and location were conducive to operating a brothel, Star bought a trailer about 2 miles north of downtown Beatty and changed the name to Vickie’s Star Ranch.

Eventually, flooding of the Star Ranch and personal affairs would lead Star to move from Beatty and buy one more brothel, composed of separate buildings that served as a bar, kitchen and restaurant, a guest hotel and a cabin with several bedrooms a desolate corner of Nevada near the ghost town of Shoshone, California. The brothel had once been owned by famed and notorious brothel owner, Joe Conforte (under which it had been called the Jolly Dolly). Ash Meadows Sky Ranch also had a lighted dirt airstrip adjacent to the property, which allowed clientele to fly in to visit.

During Vickie’s ownership, the county eventually refused to issue a brothel license due to the cost of traveling out to the rural location to provide the girls’ weekly medical inspections. This would lead to the closure of the Sky Ranch, which would never reopen as a brothel. Star also took this opportunity to retire from owning and operating brothels. She retired to Northern California, where she lived until she passed away.

Vickie Star’s book, Death Valley Madam, can be purchased here.

(you can view larger versions of the images or purchase archival prints or digital images by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.)

Ash Meadows Sky Ranch Abandoned Brothel, Nevada
The guest hotel at Sky Ranch.
Ash Meadows Sky Ranch Abandoned Brothel, Nevada
Ash Meadows Sky Ranch bar.
Ash Meadows Sky Ranch Abandoned Brothel, Nevada
Rear of the bar / kitchen / office building.
Ash Meadows Sky Ranch Abandoned Brothel, Nevada
Exterior of the bar / kitchen / offices.
Ash Meadows Sky Ranch Abandoned Brothel, Nevada
View from the porch of the cribs.
Ash Meadows Sky Ranch Abandoned Brothel, Nevada
Inside the cribs at the ranch.
Ash Meadows Sky Ranch Abandoned Brothel, Nevada
The gravel runway adjacent to the brothel.

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ray nadeau
21:28 March 30, 2019

Spent many happy hours at Ash Meadows in the 1970's---shooting pool.listening to the incoming pilots askingfor landing instructions,drinking beer, etc

Wayne Alberty
00:49 September 25, 2019

I was a regular patron there spending a week at a time .Fly in from Vegas top of the line women.A very nice place golf course trap shooting swimming . I always rented the motel rooms it was a very classy brothel Would do it all over again I got treated like a king of course I had deep pockets filled with hundred dollar bills. I would love to correspond with any of the girls that worked there.

19:18 December 9, 2019

we lived thare befor

Ralph Bain
01:47 March 12, 2020

I came there 1952 to rope wild horses, And get rich, Yes I took a lot of horses, Made about enuff to eat drink, And bandades,I knew Mr. Peterson, Tex McCaw, He owned Ash meadows at one time he told me? There was a frog farm there. There was a old lady who lived there shoot at everyone? I drank at the Lodge, The airstrip was there. Yes I wore a gun! Everyone hated Me! . But a few years later the state came in with helacopters Jeeps rounded up all the horses., No more horses!

Ralph Bain
01:57 March 12, 2020

In 1952 I lived in Las Vegas, There was an old lady, Sold newspapers on the corner of Main and Tonapaw highway, They called her Tonapaw Lillie? They told me she used to be a Showgirl in Vegas at one time? no one seems to remember her??

    Ralph Bain
    05:13 May 28, 2020

    The lady that sh The lady that shot at me was kitty tubbs. I called her Mrs. Tubbs.. One day I rode up tied my horse and knocked on her door. She came with the dam shotgun I said, mam . please don't shoot at me...Peterson Toled me, Kitty Likes to Have a drink.. I don't remember what I said. but I went to my saddlebags got a bottle'. Her and I were friends After that. .See them weanling colts In the pictures? I gave kitty all my colts. I couldnt ship them.


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