Cherry Patch Ranch
The Cherry Patch Ranch brothel in the southern Nevada town of Crystal has a storied history. The building, owned by infamous brothel owner Dennis Hof, sits just up the road from the Love Ranch building where Hof’s dead body was found after celebrating his 72nd birthday.
While he unquestionably used his media savvy to build the reputation and advertise his properties, Dennis Hof may not have even been the most interesting personality to have had a hand in the brothels in Crystal…
A view of the Cherry Patch Ranch brothel trailers and adjoining restaurant
Maynard “Joe” Richards was born in Duluth, Minnesota, and moved first to Las Vegas, before settling in Nevada’s Amargosa Valley in the 1970’s. At the time, he purchased a 1.25 acre parcel in the town of Crystal for $1500 from someone who had wanted to develop the rural area for housing, but opted to sell off his lots when the plan didn’t work out.
Richards would begin to buy up all the land that he could in Crystal, eventually ending up with over 100 acres.
Around 1978, Richards moved two small trailers onto his parcel and opened up the Cherry Patch brothel. Starting with six workers, the brothel would add trailers, eventually growing to house over 20 girls.
The operation was noticed by Bill Apfel, who owned the Shamrock Bar in nearby Lathrop Wells. The Shamrock had been the only legal brothel in southern Nye County until Richards’ arrival whose brothel opening occurred around the same time as Walter Plankinton opening the Chicken Ranch in Pahrump. Apfel would engage in a series of activities to vandalize, harass and generally sabotage these newer competing establishments. While Richards managed to avoid the more serious firebombing instigated by Apfel at the Chicken Ranch, the Cherry Patch Ranch saw its signs cut down and the wall surrounding the property damaged.*
A hallway into the parlor at the abandoned Cherry Patch Ranch brothel
On one occasion, the Nye County Sheriff’s Department, later shown to have an especially friendly relationship with Apfel and the Shamrock Bar, delivered a notice to Richards to shut down the Cherry Patch Ranch at noon on a specified date. Noting that closing at noon was the extent of the orders, when the date arrived, Richards brought all of the workers outside of the Cherry Patch at 11am. At 12pm, the Sheriff’s Department put up a barbwire fence around the property while Richards and the workers looked on. A little bit later, Richards asked a deputy what time he had. The deputy responded with around 12:30. Richards then dismantled the barbwire and moved everyone back inside to return to work.
Parlor room inside the Cherry Patch Ranch
After Apfel’s murder at his Lathrop Wells brothel, Richards bought the property and renamed it the Cherry Patch II, citing it being an ideal location, bringing the number of brothels under his ownership to three – the two Cherry Patch properties as well as Mable’s Whorehouse and Bar, and Madam Butterfly’s Bath and Massage Salon also located in Crystal.
In 2006, Joe Richards was charged with attempting to bribe a Nye County commissioner, allegedly offering to pay Commissioner Candice Trummell in order to rewrite an ordinance that would then allow him to build a brothel at the south end of Pahrump. Trummell had been working with the FBI and recording her phone calls with Richards.
Richards would plead guilty in 2009. With a criminal record, the brothel owner was eventually forced to close his properties.
A buyer appeared in Dennis Hof, who at the time owned properties in Northern Nevada and was looking to expand into the southern portion of the state.
Under his ownership, Hof would rename the Cherry Patch II into the Alien Cathouse, and would change Mable’s Bar into the Love Ranch South, where he focused his attention in Crystal. The original Cherry Patch, standing a few hundred yards away from the Love Ranch, would occasionally appear in the media through several rebranding campaigns – a couple of which included a brothel museum, a Las Vegas Raiders themed brothel catering to athletes which made the news quickly after the announcement the team would be moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, and the opening of a larger casino and nightclub with brothel on the site. While there were little bits of movement on some of these ideas, Hof seemed to focus his energy on the Love Ranch property, and in hindsight, it may have just been the savvy newsmaker’s way of keeping his brothels in the news feeds while adhering to Nevada’s strict laws governing brothel advertisements.
Inside one of the bedrooms at the Cherry Patch Ranch
The restaurant adjoined to the Cherry Patch Ranch would continue to maintain its alcohol license, and would host occasional events while the trailers that once housed the brothels languished and weathered just down the hall.
Following his sentencing of time in a halfway house and probation, Joe Richards focused his time on his Pahrump newspaper, The Mirror, which included his weekly column, “On Target: From the Kingdom of Nye”. Richards died in 2021.
Hof would die in 2018, in the midst of a political campaign for Nevada State Assembly, which he posthumously won. The old Cherry Patch Ranch sat abandoned following his death.
The Cherry Ranch was included with all of Hof’s former properties in the town of Crystal, sold to a cash buyer in 2022.
Child’s scribbles on paper kept in one worker’s possessions inside an abandoned bedroom
Decorating to set the mood inside the trailer bedroom
Rooms had platforms for TVs that showed adult movies
Possessions left behind at the Cherry Patch Ranch
Brothel chic – the idea of turning the Cherry Patch Ranch into a brothel museum never materialized
Steam room inside the brothel
The adjacent Crystal Springs Bar saw more recent use, but also sits abandoned
Adult Fun – Open 24 Hours
Cherry Patch Ranch with Love Ranch property at the end of the road
See our other blog posts here.