Alaska’s Haunted Brothel Museum That’ll Transport You Back In Time

Red Onion Saloon & Brothel Museum - Skagway, Alaska

 By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley 

Near the northern end of the Alaska Panhandle is the charming Southeast town of Skagway, home to the Red Onion Saloon and Brothel Museum. The Red Onion Saloon was built in 1897 and opened for business in 1898. This historic landmark was once known as the finest bordello in Skagway during the famous Klondike Gold Rush. The original structure of the old “cathouse” still remains today, but times have since changed. The purpose of the operation is now of a different kind, though it harkens to its initial roots. Each summer, visitors from far and wide flock to this seasonal hot spot to enjoy the old-fashioned gold rush charm that can be found throughout the restaurant, bar, and museum. As irrefutable rumors circulate that the Red Onion Saloon is haunted, many choose to take it upon themselves to investigate the on-site paranormal activity as they tour this iconic attraction. brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - Jasperdo
As summertime approaches, Skagway’s year-round population of approximately a thousand residents nearly doubles in size in order to support over 900,000 visitors that flock to the area. brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - Ben & Gab
Skagway can be reached by the South Klondike Highway from Canada. But many also access the area via airplane, railroad, or boat. brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - Peter Lee
Conveniently located right in town on the corner of 2nd and Broadway, the Red Onion Saloon and Brothel Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions. brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - RLEVANS
Before touring the brothel museum, fuel up on delicious food and creative cocktails in the restaurant. brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - ryan harvey
Visitors love the vibrant old-fashioned atmosphere and the lively waitress entertainment from the local “good time girls” (and gents). brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - Ian Duffy
It’s all fun and games until you get a taste of the paranormal activity. After enjoying the great service, head up the creaky staircase and to the main attraction—the brothel museum. brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - Jimmy Emerson, DVM
You’ll wind through narrow hallways lined with wallpaper and gaudy decorations that’ll take you back to end of the 19th century. Talk about a blast from the past! brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Paintings on the wall represent the madams that used to work at the brothel.

brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - Trish Snyder
The museum is filled with antiques and relics that are remaining local adornments from the gold rush. Where the light shines in the dark behind the old gowns, a ghost is said to frequently appear. It has been reported that the light will start flickering out of nowhere, and will sporadically sway back and forth. Is it an earthquake, electrical issue, or haunted brothel museum? brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - Trish Snyder
The madam spirit dressed in white, known as Lydia, has been known to make spooky appearances as she peeps in to investigate the modern-day brothel museum. brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - Trish Snyder
It is said that the brothel used the “doll system,” which means that there was a doll at the bar that represented each of the girls upstairs. A patron would choose a doll in order to determine who they would spend time with. brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - Jimmy Emerson, DVM
If a girl was busy her corresponding doll would be placed on its back by the bartender. When her customer returned downstairs this would indicate that the girl was available again and the bartender would stand her doll back up. brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - Trish Snyder
Don’t leave without stopping to enjoy the educational literature along the way. You’ll be sure to learn a thing or two (aka a very interesting yet slightly provocative history lesson). “A different kind of gold digger” is a read that you just don’t see everyday! brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - Jimmy Emerson, DVM
After you leave this historic saloon and brothel museum, the (slightly creepy) manikin gals will still be staring out at you through the window upstairs as you walk away in amazement. brothel museum Skagway Alaska Flickr - tuchodi
Looking for more where that came from? Check out these 13 quirky Alaska roadside attractions that'll make you do a double take. You'll also enjoy this remarkably rare story of Alaska's whimsical Goose Creek Tower. Be sure to also check out these 17 jaw-dropping Alaska airport runways that will have you on the edge of your seat.
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Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley 


I used to fly for Skagway Air Service 1990-92. The Red Onion was our favorite bar. Michelle used to be the bartender. Lots of good memories:))

Morten Berg April 17, 2021

She still working?? hahaha

gerald brown April 17, 2021

We were just there this last September. It was a good time as always.

John Shockley April 17, 2021

My Father worked on the docks in the 50’s and one of my aunts worked at the brothel house.

Angela Hamilton April 17, 2021

The barbecue and the pizza is awesome!

Angel April 17, 2021

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