The late, watery afternoon sun was slipping to the west when we arrived at Riverside Cemetery. The oldest operating cemetery in Denver, Riverside takes up a massive seventy-seven acres between Brighton Boulevard and the South Platte River.
Created in 1876 as an alternative to the quickly deteriorating City Cemetery – now Cheesman Park, more on that location another time – Riverside was a cemetery of choice for wealthy Denverites who wanted a beautiful, park-like, secluded burial place. It was so popular, many exhumed and moved their already dead and buried to Riverside! While the addition of the BNSF railroad track in 1890 dissuaded a few families and the dying-off of the grounds due to a loss of water rights turned away others, Riverside was still the burial location for over 67,000 people including over 1,200 Civil War veterans. It was designated a National Historic District in 1994.
Although I have not found documentation of any ghostly encounters at the cemetery, given the breadth of time and historical events represented within its gates, it would seem unlikely not to have a spirit or two lingering around!
We started in the north section at the Old Stone House. Made of limestone, the Stone House was used as an office and holding tomb, and possibly also a chapel. Is the sloping concrete ramp where the bodies were moved in and out?
Walking through the winter-brown landscape we were struck by the disquieting juxtaposition of time suspended and time having moved on: modern smokestacks and industrial complexes surround the neighborhood around memorials that go back nearly 140 years.