Park City History Bits - October 24, 2013

Oct 24, 2013

Have you heard of the two women who ran the Park City franchise of the world’s oldest profession?

This is Mark Eaton with your weekly Park City History Bit.

Park City had few respectable jobs for single women during the mining days. But one time-tested occupation thrived for at least 70 years.

Prostitution was a difficult way to make a living. The Park Record documents stories of assaults, gunfights and suicide attempts on “The Row,” the area where prostitutes lived, now Deer Valley Drive.

The most well-known madam in Park City was Mother Urban. She and her husband built and owned many houses, or “cribs”, as they were referred to, in the early 1900s. Folklore surrounds Mother Urban, but because she kept a low profile, a lot isn’t known about her. It is thought that she was born in 1864 in Ohio, the daughter of Irish immigrants, died in March 1933, and is buried in City Cemetery. She is said to have made generous contributions to the community, and photos show her as a large woman.

The madam who followed in Mother Urban’s footsteps was Bessie Wheeler, who continued The Row. Old-timers claim Bessie took care of those who were down-and-out in Park City. She and her husband were arrested in the Sin Raid in 1955.

This Park City History Bit is brought to you by the Park City Museum, and their newest exhibit, “Miners to Moguls: 50 Years of Park City Skiing”, and is sponsored by Julie Hopkins of Keller Williams Real Estate.