There were many euphemisms for the saloon and dance hall whores -night workers, frail sisters, the horizontally employed - and although whores back East were employed in luxurious brothels, the whores in the cowtowns had a much more frugal existence and often lived in small back rooms of the saloon or dance hall that employed them. This enabled the saloon and dance hall owners to exploit the girls even further, for not only would they get a slice of their earnings but they also took a little more for room and board.
Prices for the services of these women varied from town to town but an average cost was 25c for a Mexican woman to $1 for an American lady. Higher prices were charged if a woman was of unusual youth and often a woman with red hair would fetch the highest price of all. It was a popular belief around the mining camps that women with auburn hair were the most amorous women in the world.
Why though would women become involved in this profession?
The answer to that question was no different in the Old West than it is today. Many of them had been abandoned by their families or left alone when a husband died or ran off, others were mentally illiterate and others still were immigrants with no other way to make a living. And although their profession was frowned upon they were often a vital part of early cowtown life.
Below I have posted a 1915 poem by Dana Burnet: