This Alaska Saloon Is Said To Be One Of The Most Haunted Places In America

Located in Skagway, Alaska, the Red Onion Saloon opened its doors in 1898 (via Haunted Journeys). Per Haunted Houses, the former brothel was built by Captain William Moore to provide "intimate female companionship" to miners during the Klondike Gold Rush. The Red Onion Saloon was a fine building for its time and had two stories. The first floor was a bar and the second floor featured 10 rooms (called cribs) for the ladies to service their guests. The girls were reportedly treated quite well and generously paid $1.25 per client.

According to The Haunted Places, clients knew which ladies were available using a "doll system." A doll resembling the girl was placed on a ledge at the bar. If the doll was upright, she was available. If the doll was on its back, it meant the girl was occupied with another customer. Although business would thrive in 1898, it quickly slowed down as the gold rush came to a halt. It's believed that the brothel was only open until 1899 or 1900.

Since then, the Red Onion Saloon has been a variety of establishments including a dance hall, army barracks, a pharmacy, a gift shop, and more. In 1978, the property was purchased by Jan Wrentmore. She renovated the Red Onion Saloon and converted it back to a restaurant and bar. Now operating as a restaurant and museum, many believe some of the original ladies of the night have decided to stay.

Hauntings at the Red Onion Saloon

Perhaps the most famous ghost at the Red Onion Saloon is Lydia, a former prostitute (via The Haunted Places). Details of her life are scarce, but it's believed she committed suicide in her room after contracting an STD. According to Haunted House, visitors and employees can often smell a strong perfume and hear footsteps coming from the second floor, both of which are attributed to Lydia. She is described as being "hostile towards male visitors" but caring towards women as she "caresses their hair." Some employees even believe she waters the plants.

Haunted Journeys writes that Lydia's full apparition has been seen near the staircase wearing a long dark dress. In one instance, police were called after staff heard a "great disturbance" upstairs (per Haunted Rooms). Although they saw a "figure" run into a room no one was found. Diamond Lili Davenport, a former madame, is another ghost that is said to haunt the Red Onion Saloon. She is known for "softly whispering" into the ears of male guests.

Lastly, there's a "malevolent male spirit," believed to be a bouncer, who has been known to cause trouble. He moves objects and has reportedly gotten physical with staff. Looking to experience the hauntings for yourself? Atlas Obscura reports that the Red Onion Saloon is open from April until September. They have several brothel tours that will have guests feeling like they have stepped back in time.