The Red-Light District of Butte Montana: The Decadence and Dissolution Of A Local Institution Cover Image
By Marques Vickers (Photographer), Marques Vickers
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Marques Vickers' "Red-Light District of Butte Montana" is an intimate photo examination of the infamous sex trade once nationally recognized during the late 19th and early 20th century. Over 135 current photographs document the remnants of the famed Copper mining town's prostitution core. Vickers' work details historical anecdotes, narratives on colorful personages and perspective on an era when prostitution was locally institutionalized. The remaining Dumas Brothel is a profiled parlor house noteworthy for its operational longevity between 1890-1982. The Dumas is the longest tenured American house of prostitution. Founded by two French Canadian brothers, the property weathered numerous reform movements and attempts towards forced closure by governmental authorities. Owner tax evasion ultimately shuttered the property. Renovation efforts are being undertaken to restore the building, much to the chagrin of paranormal spirits that haunt the lodgings. Across the road is the Blue Range Building, the last street-facing example of the lowest extremity of prostitution once employed within the district. The seven sets of ground floor doors and adjacent windows housed segregated cubicles called cribs. Diminutive cribs accommodated only a single bed and an occasional washbasin and chamber pot. Lower esteemed prostitutes serviced clients from these utilitarian spaces. Their clientele consisted primarily of common laborers and miners with modest financial means. Butte's prostitution industry reinforced a rigid hierarchy of distinguishing elite mistresses for the affluent and influential, from lowly street solicitors. The lifestyle of sex professionals was plagued by drug addiction, financial debt, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, abortion, violence and abuse by their patrons and jealousy-motivated clients. Many of the younger women harbored unrealistic expectations that a client would eventually fall in love with them enabling their escape. Suicide was common even amongst the highest regarded women within such a cannibalistic environment, During the turn of the twentieth century, Butte was one of the largest Rocky Mountain population centers. Its licentious reputation mirrored contemporary Las Vegas. Unlike many western frontier settlements, cowboy culture made minimal intrusion. Instead, the mining industry and extreme winters created an atmosphere hometown born and raised motorcycle daredevil Evil Knievel described as "gritty", more resembling a Pennsylvania steel region community. Butte's current leading tourist attraction is the Berkeley Pit, an enormous open cavity copper mine that was operationally closed in 1982. The seeping adjacent waters into the exposed mine are laced with toxic heavy metals and chemicals leaving the region in a state of suspended environmental danger. The commentary attempts to sort legend from fact in the portrayal of neighboring Chinatown and periphery properties. Galena, Arizona, Mercury and Main Streets defined the red-light district's historical parameters. The decline of the neighborhood is exemplified by an abundance of vacant spacing and parking lots. Amidst the decay, sprouting stories and speculation recreate an epoch when thousands of desperate men and women trawled the sidewalks and alleyways in search of company, diversion, and sexual release. Butte's red-light district is a haunting environment with a complex past. History and the consequence of sustained decadence are embedded throughout the phantom architecture symbolized by room and building tracings on still standing relics.

About the Author

Visual Artist, Writer and Photographer Marques Vickers is a California native presently living in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle, Washington regions. He was born in 1957 and raised in Vallejo, California. He is a 1979 Business Administration graduate from Azusa Pacific University in the Los Angeles area. Following graduation, he became the Public Relations and ultimately Executive Director of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce between 1979-84. He subsequently became the Vice President of Sales for AsTRA Tours and Travel in Westwood between 1984-86. Following a one-year residence in Dijon, France where he studied at the University of Bourgogne, he began Marquis Enterprises in 1987. His company operations have included sports apparel exporting, travel and tour operations, wine brokering, publishing, rare book and collectibles reselling. He has established numerous e-commerce, barter exchange and art websites including,,, and Between 2005-2009, he relocated to the Languedoc region of southern France. He concentrated on his painting and sculptural work while restoring two 19th century stone village residences. His figurative painting, photography and sculptural works have been sold and exhibited internationally since 1986. He re-established his Pacific Coast residence in 2009 and has focused his creative productivity on writing and photography. His published works span a diverse variety of subjects including true crime, international travel, California wines, architecture, history, Southern France, Pacific Coast attractions, fiction, auctions, fine art marketing, poetry, fiction and photojournalism. He has two daughters, Charline and Caroline who presently reside in Europe.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781548248239
ISBN-10: 1548248231
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: June 20th, 2017
Pages: 146
Language: English