hotel arizona in ash fork true west magazine
Hotel Arizona in Ash Fork.

Did all western hotels have outhouses and pots under the bed or did any have some kind of indoor accommodations other than the chamber pot? How many actually offered baths?

The popularity of tub-bathing grew as the country flourished and expanded. In the arid Southwest finding a bathtub could be difficult. In 1871, Tucson boasted 3,000 people, a newspaper, a brewery, two doctors, several saloons including the aptly-named Shoofly
Restaurant and one bathtub.

The best place for a man to find a bathtub would be at the local barber shop and for a quarter he could climb into a small tub and a youngster would pour a bucket of hot water from hot stove.

hygiene in the old west bathtub true west magazine

Women required and got a little more privacy. Hotels usually provide a tub where she would take her bath. If it was in some fancy hotel the room might have a tub. A maid would bring hot water.

The good old days weren’t all that good when it came to hygiene. People didn’t bathe very often in the Old West. A woman would add a little more perfume. Unless a man used some of the barber’s sweet-smelling cologne it was not wise to be downwind from him.

As for disposing of the water it was tossed out a window or door. If by chance the bathtub was upstairs it was tossed out the window much the same as the chamber pots. Be sure to shout “Look Out Below.”

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at

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