Peak Prose - Mt. Silverheels (13,822 ft.)

Spend 5 minutes with Grace or Kendra and you’ll soon find yourself fending off “Did you know…?”s from every direction! Inspired by weekend jaunts to the mountains surrounding South Park, here is one of their favorite stories about Colorado’s epic peaks: Mt. Silverheels.

Standing just shy of 14,000 ft., Mt. Silverheels serves as the of backdrop of old school mountain towns Fairplay, Como and Alma. The legend behind this stunning natural skyscraper has as many variations as there are hours in the day. However, a few core details are consistent across different versions despite the incomplete historical record:

Silverheels grew up out East and moved to Colorado right after the Gold Rush. [NB: For those of you that didn’t grown up here, California’s miners are ‘49ers; Colorado’s are ‘59ers.] She took a stagecoach to Buckskin Joe, a bustling mining town outside of present-day Alma, and quickly won over the local miners with her rare beauty and graceful dance steps.

Some say the nickname Silverheels is simply a bastardized version of her stage name Silber; others claim she stepped out of the stagecoach in a pair of sparkling silver-heeled dancing shoes; still others contend that a lover bestowed them on her as a token of his affection.

Regardless, she ruled the stage at Bill Buck’s saloon, attracting miners from miles around who, flush with gold, paid her well to dance the night away or spend the night with them…

In 1861, a terrible smallpox epidemic struck Buckskin and without hesitation Silverheels lept into action, doing what she could to nurse her community back to health despite the gruesome visage of this disease. As the town slowly returned to life, however, Silverheels came down with smallpox herself. Her patrons-turned-patients were devastated and worked to raise a recovery fund to thank her for her selfless generosity.

When the miners arrived to deliver their care package, Silverheels was nowhere to be seen. Legend has it, she couldn’t bear to show her pockmarked, scarred face to a crowd that previously believed her to be one of the most beautiful women in Colorado; and so she ran into the woods, never to be seen again.

Brothels, Bordellos & Bad Girls: Prostitution in Colorado, 1860-1930, Jan MacKell, University of New Mexico Press, 2004.

Jones, Adam James. “Silverheels, ” Rocky Mountain Legends, May 4, 2011, https://adamjamesjones.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/silverheels/.