The Night Bordello Row Burned
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  1. #1
    hu
    Gypsyheart~ Queen of Rust

    Nov 2005
    Ozarks
    12,686
    304 times

    The Night Bordello Row Burned





    Courtesy of the Archives of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock
    This is the only known photograph of the fire of January 7-8, 1910 at the Fort Smith Light and Traction Co. According to contemporary news accounts, the fire was caused by the explosion of an oil tank at the plant and on the corner of North First and D streets. The fire interrupted trolley service in the city, burned down some of the houses in the nearby Row area, the vice district where prostitution was legal and regulated. Because it was an oil fire and difficult to extinguish, it burned for more than 12 hours. Late on the morning of Jan. 8, a melted metal tower which held aloft a water tank collapsed. The water spread the oil fire in all directions, igniting the powerhouse. It was at that time that trolley and power service was interrupted. The fiery oil slick covered part of the Arkansas River and even ignited driftwood on a sandbar. Because of the infamy of the Row, the fire has been long remembered locally and earned the name "Night of the Lingerie Parade." That sobriquet was bestowed on the event because legend recounts that prostitutes in the bordellos of the Row fled the threatening blaze in their bedclothes.


    While that certainly seems possible, no evidence exists to support a version of the story that an arsonist sought to burn down the Row out of moral indignation. One newspaper reports that the "resort of Dora Gaston" and the "resort of Jesse Collins" were destroyed in the fire, but it was not the end of commercial sex in the Row. Laura Zeigler, the madam at 123 First St., did not move away until 1911. Dora Gaston returned to re-establish her bordello after the blaze. Miss Ella Scott's house operated well into 1920s or later. Some storytellers have asserted that the fire only left Miss Laura's. That appears not to be the case. Several madams and houses continued to operate in the Row for many years.




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    I go a great distance,while some are considering whether they will start today or tomorrow

  2. #2
    us
    Apr 2004
    Southern Appalachia
    Whites CM2 BFO, Harbor Freight 9 function, BH Pioneer 202, Fisher F22
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    1148 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: The Night Bordello Row Burned

    Hi Gypsy, nice post and interesting research. I was in Fort Smith two years ago, and spent an entire day at the old Fort Museum. I feel that this city, and near vicinity might be one of the best areas to treasure hunt in the U.S. I do remember reading about this fire while at the museum. Belle Starr's bordello house is still standing, and has an inviting look to the surrounding yard. I hope to return to Fort Smith in 2009 for a weeks digging, and am just starting to get my research together, and looking for a good book on the area if anybody knows of one.

  3. #3
    us
    Feb 2008
    river valley/ Fort Smith, Arkansas
    white's DFX,Classic III, Prizim II
    1,120
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    Re: The Night Bordello Row Burned

    Slngshot , I believe you are talking about Miss Laura's . It is down at the foot of the bridge and being used as a tourist information site.
    Belle Starr was a woman on the wrong side of the law not a red light madam.
    I quit smoking 2/26/08
    cleaning  Earth 1 pulltab at a time.

  4. #4
    hu
    Gypsyheart~ Queen of Rust

    Nov 2005
    Ozarks
    12,686
    304 times

    Re: The Night Bordello Row Burned

    I think it was Pearl Starr,Belle's daugter who opened her own house at 25 water Street on 'The Row"
    I go a great distance,while some are considering whether they will start today or tomorrow

 

 

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