Saloons in the Old West played an important role in the lives of lonely men. They were social gathering places where they could belly up to the bar and talk with one another on a wide range of topics. Here men could imbibe, take in a game of chance or visit with a saloon girl. More important, it was a place where one could catch up on the latest news, meet up with someone from home or strike up a profitable deal. Politicians also used saloons to campaign for office and preachers often used them in an attempt to recover lost souls.
In the early 1900s Prescott’s storied “Whiskey Row” had forty saloons. Thirsty cowboys used to ride into town on Saturday night to spend their hard-earned pay. Some of the bolder ones tried to have at least one drink in each saloon before riding out the next day.
The longest-running saloon in Arizona is the Palace Restaurant and Saloon in Prescott. The exact age and ownership is a mystery. A freighter named Isaac Goldberg might have opened it in 1864 on a dirt street called Montezuma, better-known as Whiskey Row. Another story says D.C. Thorne opened it in 1868.
One thing certain is a fire in 1883 destroyed it along with most of Whiskey Row. It also destroyed records leaving some of the saloon’s history up to speculation. New owner Bob Brow rebuilt a “fireproof” Palace with an iron roof, bricks mortar and a stone foundation.
Although “decent” women didn’t frequent bars in those days hostesses entertained with songs and entertained the men “in other ways” in the upstairs bedrooms. There were gaming tables for poker, craps, roulette and keno. A glass of beer cost five cents and a dime for a shot of whiskey.
Among the saloons colorful patrons were the Earp Brothers, Virgil and Wyatt along with their pal, Doc Holliday.