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
Site of the lodge patio and swimming pool.


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.


Between 1966 and 67, a writer named Edward Abbey would often spend his afternoons at the Ash Meadows Lodge bar during his mid-day breaks driving a yellow school bus to shuttle children from Furnace Creek in Death Valley to high school in the town of Shoshone working on his manuscript. The man recounted his days working a summer job as the sole ranger in the then-named Arches National Monument in Utah over the course of several seasons during the 1950’s. During these afternoons, Abbey would work on his book, Desert Solitaire, speaking with the women who worked the adjacent legal brothel that shared ownership with the lodge and saloon.

“While waiting, I scribbled… In January 1968, on a dark night in a back alley in the dead of winter, Solitaire was released from its cage and turned loose on an unsuspecting public,” Abbey would later explain the release of the book.



Sky Ranch Brothel Parlor




While known for being amongst the most lavish of Nevada’s brothels, bedrooms were minimal


Sun deck


Ash Meadows Lodge bar


The hotel was known for being luxurious, however years of use as a minerals company office and abandonment followed


Ash Meadows Lodge







follow our posts here.

or see our other blog posts here.

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.

Martin Brown
19:49 October 19, 2020

I lived there around 1964 or 1965, when I was 11 or 12 years old. My mom said she owned the place, but I don't know. She was not always the most truthful woman. Her name was Dorothy Brown. She later married Charlie Van Camp, I went to Death Valley Elementary School for the 5th grade, under the name of Pete Van Camp. I went frogging at the Tubbs ranch. It was an interesting place to live, although there were no other kids within 7 miles.

Barbara Eaddy
01:07 September 3, 2023

Not sure of the year 1976, I would visit Ash Meadows with my boyfriend and 2 children. Dick and Jody were the owners at the time. There was a motel 12 rooms I believe, stable with one horse and the main house and a little pond, plus his own airstrip. They would fly into Vegas on Sundays to go to church. They had a home in Las Vegas and he owned an airplane. Dick was a Morman minister. I remember my son and daughter flew with Dick to the ranch and my friend and I drove to the ranch. I have a picture on daughter standing on the property. At night it was so black and clear you could reach up and touch the stars. Driving to town to get some milk, because the ranch could no drive a stick shift truck. It was a ghost town, at that time I think only 3-4 people (maybe) lived town. I remember driving a few miles in pitch darkness to visit a neighbor. It was a very exciting experience. I lived in Los Angeles at the time, but was from New Jersey. It was a wonderful experience

Jim Manner
22:07 January 26, 2024

In the mid-60's, was exploring the Amargosa Valley and Devil's Hole area, and stumbled onto the Ash Meadows "ranch". Young and naive, I wondered "Why the girls names on the motel rooms?" Has anybody heard of the legend regarding an Indian maiden falling in one of the springs and floating up some time later in another?


Previous post Next post
error: Content is protected !!