A Walk with the Spirits

 

Crested Butte Cemetery Arch A leisurely walk through an historic cemetery relates intriguing details of the region’s settlement and struggles. Styles of enclosures, markers and headstones reflect cultural, ethnic and societal influences. Inscriptions tell of epidemics, natural disasters, gunfights or the steadfastness of a man’s character. A chiseled boulder in the Cripple Creek Mt. Pisgah Cemetery states, “He died as he lived, honest, loyal and an upright man.”

Crested Butte Child's Grave Children’s graves were frequently enclosed with wooden or wrought iron fencing, or carefully laid stone borders. Headstones with carved lambs denote infant burials. Poetry abounds. Especially memorable is a monument in a Central City cemetery marking the graves for one family’s five children – all who died before reaching their first birthday.

Graveyards near ghost towns and mining camps remain worthy of investigation. Spend a crisp autumn afternoon strolling the distinctive cemeteries near Alma, Central City, Cripple Creek or Leadville for a Colorado history refresher coarse.

The Littleton Cemetery on South Prince Street is the permanent (?) resting place of Alfred Packer, the only man in United States history to be convicted of  the crime of cannibalism.

The tombstones in Cripple Creek’s Mt. Pisgah Cemetery tell so many stories of the town’s famous and the infamous. On September 26, 2009 the Gold Camp Victorian Society planLeadville Grave with Aspens a day of Mt. Pisgah tours with character reenactments throughout the cemetery. Tours start at the Cripple Creek District Museum located next to the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad Depot. The tour begins with a ride aboard the historic trolley. The first tour leaves the museum at 9:30am; the last departs at 2:00pm. Donations to benefit the society’s historic preservation efforts are $8/adult, $15/couple and $5/child under 12. I’m sure you’ll meet Pearl.

Under the October full moon, Riverside Cemetery is the site of a History & Mystery Tour on October 2 & 3. Tours at 4:30, 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30pm each evening with tickets priced at $12/adult, $10/child. Required reservations can be made by calling 303-322-3895 or emailing heritage@fairmountheritagefoundation.org. On Halloween, Oct. 31, Crested Butte Cemetery Open Gate free tours are planned every 15 minutes between 2:00-3:15pm. Historians and actors will share the stories of influential Colorado residents such as Governor Evans and Augusta Tabor. Reservations are encouraged.

In Glenwood Springs, costumed historic characters recall their lively pasts as lantern led tours visit the “spirits” of Linwood (Glenwood Pioneer) Cemetery. Doc Holliday is reportedly buried here … or is he? Join the Annual Historic Ghost Walk to hear the story. The walks are planned for Oct. 16-18, Oct. 23-25 and Oct. 30-31, 2009. Tickets are $15/person and go on sale Oct. 1. These annual walks sell out quickly, purchase tickets as soon as they go on sale by calling the Frontier Historical Museum at 970-945-4448.

Leadville Sunken Graves We’ve tramped around many of Colorado’s cemeteries through the years, especially those near early mining camps. Each has its own distinctive characteristics and slate of citizens with fascinating stories. Leadville’s Evergreen Cemetery contains graves from 1879 to the present, graves with ornate headstones and those with rotting crosses. One early section with sunken graves ranks as the spookiest I’ve ever visited. Judge Neil Reynolds introduces the spirits of  Evergreen Cemetery during Halloween Cemetery Tours, Oct. 30-31 at 8:00pm each evening. This popular event usually sells out – call 719-486-3900 or 888-532-3845 for tickets, $10/person.

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