Marianne Porter’s interview with Dean Schaecher and Christa Finn from The Pour House (see article here) is a reminder of just how far one of downtown’s most notorious streets — Jibboom Street — has come since Truckee was a railroad and lumber town.
On a street where Truckee locals now go to swirl and sip cabernets and sauvignon blancs, gun fights and knife fights used to erupt during a lawless time when Jibboom Street was bookended by bootlegged liquor and prostitutes on one end, and the town’s jail on the other.
Jibboom Street is actually Truckee’s most historic avenue. The thoroughfare started out as part of the Dutch Flat/Donner Lake wagon road, and soon became the site of Gray’s Cabin, Truckee’s first building, according to the Truckee Donner Historical Society.
But it was the area’s bordellos that put the street in the history books.
“Jibboom Street, originally called Main Street, boasted the largest red light district of any small town in the West,” according to the Truckee Donner Historical Society’s website. “It attracted gamblers, pimps, and ruffians of all types but also a rugged breed of lawmen, such as Jake Teeter and James Reed, and a citizen militia, known as the ‘601.’”
The booming brothel business kept the other side of Jibbom Street busy as well. Truckee’s jail, built in 1875 and still standing today, was rarely in want of overnight guests. Notorious gangsters such as “Baby Face” Nelson and “Machine Gun” Kelly are said to have ended up behind the bars of the Jibboom Street jail.
Today the jail is a Truckee Donner Historical Society museum, and a testament to the riotous times before Jibboom Street became the hangout for law-abiding wine drinkers.