At the end of October this past year my girlfriend and I decided to take a trip to Death Valley National Park in California. We spent a couple of days in the park before the 60+ mph winds made us decide to spoil ourselves with a night in a Las Vegas hotel for a night before heading out to the Alabama Hills.
Along the way, we took a scenic drive through the Nevada desert. The long, desolate, desert roads were a stark contrast to the lush green forests and rushing waterfalls that I have become accustomed to in the Eastern United States.
Despite being faced with this strange new landscape, I was able to find plenty of beautiful scenes along the way. Among the places we discovered was Angel’s Ladies. Other than a cool, deteriorated brothel located in the middle of nowhere, this location had one very cool feature – the remains of a wrecked aircraft.
A Bit of History
The history of the Angel’s Ladies Brothel goes back over 100 years. During this time, the property had been known by a number of different names, including the Circle C Ranch and Vickie’s Star Ranch. At some point, the legal brothel became known Fran’s Star Ranch.
In 1997, Mack and Angel Moore purchased Fran’s Star Ranch and renamed the brothel to Angel’s Ladies in April of that year because people kept “confusing the brothel with a real ranch”. During their time as owners, the Moore’s took the profits of the 5,000-square-foot brothel from a mere $65,000 to over $513,000 a year. Mack Moore largely attributed this success to the internet, stating that they went from having four to five customers a week to having 75 to 100 customers every week.
Mr. Moore attempted to sell off the property in 2007 but ended up taking it over again just two years later due to a foreclosure on the property. Finally, in 2010, he sold it for $1.8 million, continuing to run the business as a leaseholder.
On August 10, 2014, Mack retired and closed the brothel for good. The property has sat neglected ever since.
But Wait, What About the Plane?!
At this point, you’re probably wondering what the deal with the plane is. I mean, after all, it’s not too often that you come across an abandoned brothel in the middle of the desert with a wrecked airplane sitting out front.
Well, the story behind this is actually quite simple. Among the property’s swimming pools, gardens, and hot springs was a 2,700-foot-long private runway. In 1977, the brothel, still known as Fran’s Star Ranch at this time, decided to attempt a promotional stunt wherein one could compete to claim their prize – a night with any lady of their choice, free of charge.
Just what did the prospective contestants have to do in order to claim such a prize, you ask?
Well, the idea was simple. A mattress was placed in the center of a massive star that had been painted on the desert floor. If one managed to parachute from an aircraft and land on the mattress, they would win!
Things Didn’t Go as Planned
As you can probably guess at this point, this plan did not go quite as planned.
On the morning of May 28, 1977, a Beech C45-G aircraft departed Davis, California. The flight consisted of the pilot and 3 passengers and was destined for the small airstrip at Fran’s Star Ranch. According to the official NTSB accident report, at 11:20 in the morning, the aircraft experienced an engine failure, resulting in a loss in altitude and causing the plane to collide with power cables.
Luckily, despite the aircraft being deemed a total loss, all 4 occupants walked away with only minor injuries.
Despite their ill-fated stunt failing miserably, the clever owners decided to make the best of the situation and leave the plane near the sign to serve as a spectacle to attract people from the road. The wreckage has sat there ever since.
While I can’t say whether or not this served to attract new clients, the idea must’ve had some success as it was certainly enough to make us stop and explore.