The Kretzers meet The Shady Lady

Silverton Travel Blog

 › entry 6 of 10 › view all entries
Silverton, CO (Photo courtesy of Deb Spencer)

We were now in Silverton. I heard one story that said the town got its name when someone quoted a local when asked about gold in the area. He was said to have replied “We ain’t got no gold, but we got silver by the ton” It sounds contrived to me, but sometimes I can get cynical.


Anyway, it didn’t take long at all for us to disembark the train. We had snacked on the train, with refreshments purchased onboard. But, now we wanted a real meal. Almost directly in front of where we were let off was a place called “The Shady Lady”. Now who could pass up a place with a name like that?


I was guessing that the name had something to do with prostitution.

The Shady Lady (photo courtesy of
Once we were seated, and given our menus, we soon determined that to be the case. The menu told a bit about the history of the building. Stay tuned for your history lesson of the day.


The Shady Lady was indeed a former house of ill repute. It was actually the last of Silverton’s whorehouses to close. It did so in 1947. Its last madam was Jew Fanny Wright. No word on how she got her sobriquet. It is likely that she was just Jewish.  Fanny was supposed to have remarked to “Deacon” Salfisberg, the postmaster in 1947, that “ I can’t sell what high school girls are giving away” Again, a good story, but I don’t think high school girls of the 1940s were so promiscuous as to have taken away enough business to close down a brothel. I think the local authorities, and the fact that Fanny had been plying her trade for at least 40 years might have had something to do with it.


In addition to Fanny’s missionary work ( I think I’m funny), in 1918 when the Great Spanish Flu epidemic visited Silverton, Fanny helped as a nurse, gaining a measure of respect from the town folk. The epidemic hit Silverton hard. It killed 10% of the population in six weeks. Anyone willing to face that, as nurse, earned respect.


The final Jew Fanny story is from the 1930s, when Silverton served as a movie location for a number of “B” Westerns. As the Shady Lady was still open for business then, it became a popular stop for the cast and crew. Not insinuating anything, or attempting to soil the reputation of a man I admire, but displayed prominently near our table was a signed picture, to Jew Fanny, of John Wayne. Maybe it’s real. Maybe it’s not, but I do think he was in Silverton to film on at least one occasion.


We now return to our regularly scheduled program. Margo thought it was hoot to be eating in an old whorehouse. When she noticed that the establishment sold bright pink tee shirts with the restaurant’s logo, she had to have one. Three actually. There were a couple of friends back home who would be happy to hoot along with her.


We finished our meal and checked the time. We had only a two hour layover before the train left. They made it clear to us they stay on schedule and that should we miss the train, we were on our own getting back to Durango. We had used up about 40 minutes of that, so we didn’t stay too far. Nothing that we saw in any of the shops stuck with me. I don’t think we spent much time at all in Silverton after the Shady Lady. Dad isn’t much on window shopping.


We were on the train early, and true to their word we left within five minutes of our scheduled departure. The trip back was a little bit slower than the trip up, but not much.  I think they take it easy, as police are not required to enforce the laws of gravity.


We were a little tired, and the girls nodded off at one point. The natural rocking of the train has a very soothing effect. It’s not hard at all to fall asleep if you are willing. We got back to Durango about 5:30 PM. We spent a few minutes in the gift shop again, and then decided to grab dinner before we went back to the hotel. Our choice was Lori’s Family Restaurant.


The food was good, but the high altitude and long drive of the day before was taking its toll. We were all pretty tired. But, my two girls were not to be denied. It is a fact of traveling with them. We could be spending the day at the Grand Canyon, and the night being wowed by the lights of Las Vegas, but the most important thing in their itinerary is the hotel pool. Margo almost always draws this duty. She isn’t crazy about the water, but she enjoys playing with girls. By the time they were done, the girls were spent. They were in bed shortly there after, and Margo and I weren’t far behind them.


Tomorrow we were heading to the Canon City area. We were going to see the Royal Gorge and Buckskin Joe’s.

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Silverton, CO (Photo courtesy of D…
Silverton, CO (Photo courtesy of …
The Shady Lady (photo courtesy of …
The Shady Lady (photo courtesy of…
photo by: X_Drive