One of Weld County's most infamous residents could soon become the subject of an episode to be aired on public television. “Rattlesnake” Kate’s story is one of a few stories being considered for the Rocky Mountain PBS series “Colorado Experience.” It’s up for popular vote or “Viewer’s Choice”-- against five other history stories from across the state. The City of Greeley Museums is hoping Kate's story will make the cut.

The Story of Ratttlesnake Kate

On October 28, 1925, Hudson, Colorado resident Katherine McHale Slaughterback was out with her 3-year old adopted son Ernie. They were on horseback and headed toward a lake near her farm after hearing what sounded like hunters. Slaughterback hoped they would find ducks left by the hunters, but what they found instead were over a hundred live migrating rattlesnakes.

Surrounded by the snakes and worried about Ernie and her horse, Kate used the three bullets she had in her .22 rifle. With nothing left in the gun, she grabbed a nearby sign--ironically, it was a “No Hunting” sign—and began killing the rattlesnakes, one-by-one, until all were dead. All totaled, the ordeal took about 2 hours from start to finish. The number of snakes killed totaled 140.

The Rattlesnake Skin Dress

Kate used a fair amount of the snakeskins and rattles to create an authentic, one-of-a-kind flapper-style dress with matching shoes and accessories. Kate would ultimately go on to raise rattlesnakes on her property, extracting their venom for profit. She would also make and sell snakeskin souvenirs.

Three weeks before her death, Kate donated the dress to the City of Greeley Museums. Today, her original snakeskin dress is exhibited in a climate and light controlled area in the Greeley History Museum, 714 8th St., along with her story and rattlesnake shoes and accessories. Her original homestead and story are a part of nearby Centennial Village Museum, 1475 A St., which opens April 20 for Baby Animal Days.

Rattlesnake Kate's House at Centennial Village
Jenny Harding, For TSM

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