Cottontail Ranch, a legal, licensed brothel in Nevada, first opened its doors in October 1967. Lida Junction is located in Esmeralda County, Nevada, near the intersection of US Route 95 and State Route 266. The Cottontail Ranch Club was another name for it.
While living in Las Vegas in 1967, Howard Hughes allegedly paid several visits to the Cottontail Ranch for entertainment.
In the mid-1960s, then-madam Beverly Harrell fought the US Bureau of Land Management, which had been attempting to remove the brothel from federal land. Harrell also ran for the Nevada Assembly in 1974. In 1975, she published An Orderly House, a book about the Ranch.
Coming My Way, a record released in 1976, was a collection of stories told by the brothel’s employees. Years later, while working at a gas station in Utah, a man came in and left with an envelope containing Dummar’s name on the counter. After assisting a customer, Dummar discovered and opened an envelope containing what he claims was a copy of billionaire aviator Howard Hughes’ will, sparking decades of debate and multiple court trials over the will’s authenticity and Dummar’s claims.
Dummar was named as one of 16 equal beneficiaries of Hughes’ estate, which included Hughes Aircraft and substantial land holdings. Despite this, a series of court cases involving opposing accounts from Hughes’ family eventually found against Dummar’s claims.
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Others would eventually hear about the will and the trials and come forward with information that had previously been kept secret. Robert Deiro, Hughes’ individual pilot at the time, was one of them.
Years later, Deiro confirmed that, contrary to popular belief, Howard Hughes never left his Desert Inn suite during his time in the casino’s penthouse, that in the months following its opening in 1967, Deiro flew Hughes on regular trips to the dirt airstrip immediately behind the Cottontail Ranch, where Hughes would see a woman named ‘Sunny,’ a redhead who worked at the Cottontail known for having a diamond embedded in her left incisor.
Deiro admits to falling asleep in the kitchen one night while waiting for Hughes, where the brothel staff would let him. He was awakened on this night as the brothel was closing. When I asked for Hughes, the Ranch staff said he had been drunk and kicked out hours before.
Unsure what to do and unable to locate Hughes, Deiro flew back to Las Vegas alone, certain he would be fired. Rather than being fired, he stayed with Hughes and was eventually promoted, which he interprets as an encouragement to keep quiet about Hughes’ activities.
Before selling the Cottontail, Howard Harrell ran a brothel.
When the madam retired in 2004, the Cottontail Ranch was closed. Lanny D. Love purchased all of the real estate; Miss Love also purchased a luxury ranch called Lida Ranch a few miles away from the brothel. And another in Lida, a deserted town.
The property is still closed and is now for sale. The building was demolished at some point after it was closed.
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