Old Bridge Ranch
The remains of the Old Bridge Ranch (which sit on the site of the original Mustang Ranch) amidst a picturesque Nevada landscape.
Sitting in the Truckee River valley of northern Nevada lies the Old Bridge Ranch, a legal brothel that operated near the storied Mustang Ranch – in fact, the Old Bridge Ranch was built on the site of the original location of the Mustang Bridge Ranch, and over the years has acted as compliment and competition to the Mustang.
Popular for being one of the nearest brothels to the Reno area, Old Bridge owner David Burgess was the nephew of Sally Conforte (the wife of colorful Nevada brothel operator Joe Conforte). It was Joe Conforte who operated brothels in trailers near the intersection of three counties in northern Nevada before prostitution was legal in the state. When unwanted attention from the authorities came to his brothel, he would move it over county lines, until eventually he was able to successfully petition the county to pass the state’s first brothel ordinance while he ran the Mustang Ranch in 1971.
When the original Mustang Ranch was burnt down, it was rebuilt in a new location about 150 yards away, while the Old Bridge Ranch was later constructed in the place of the original.
Containing 26 rooms, along with a VIP room, bar and parlor, and dispatching and security offices, the Old Bridge Ranch was the second largest brothel in Storey County, behind the Mustang and its 56 bedrooms. Whereas the Mustang was large and well-lit, the Old Bridge was darker and of a more intimate scale.
When the Mustang Ranch was forfeited to the federal government following Conforte’s conviction on charges of tax fraud and racketeering, the IRS claiming that he owed $13 million in back taxes and penalties, and his subsequent fleeing to South America to avoid sentencing, the Old Bridge found itself as the sole operating brothel in Storey County, taking in many of the Mustang’s workers who were housed in temporary trailers outside of the main house and would sleep in shifts while reserving the main building’s bedrooms for the increased business.
Burgess had managed the Mustang Ranch from 1979-1989. Years later while running the Old Bridge, following the confiscation of the Mustang Ranch by the IRS and its subsequent auctioning of the property and assets, Burgess changed the name of the Old Bridge Ranch to the Mustang, resulting in a court battle with the owner of the nearby Wild Horse Saloon who bought and transported the old Mustang buildings to his Wild Horse property. Lance Gilman, owner of the Wild Horse, eventually won and Burgess changed his brothel’s name back to the Old Bridge Ranch.
In 1998, Burgess’ brothel operator’s license was revoked for being a member of the Hells Angels, though the Nevada State Supreme Court ruled that this didn’t violate any conditions of maintaining a brothel and his license was returned two years later.
In 2008, while traveling across the country in an RV, Wyoming police pulled over and performed a search of Burgess due to expired tags, with the subsequent search of the vehicle allegedly turning up drugs and child pornography. Though some contend that these were planted. (The story of Burgess’ arrest and trial is an interesting tale in itself. An introduction can be found here.) Burgess was eventually found guilty of possessing and transporting child pornography and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Storey County officials amended the brothel licensing laws specifically to deal with Burgess’ associates acting as non-licensed silent owners of the brothel, effectively shutting down operations at the Old Bridge Ranch. Shortly after, the brothel would close down and to this day remains abandoned.
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