Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Dead Awake

In honor of the holiday just past, the Zombie Crawl on the 16th Street Mall, and the recent tv adaptation of Robert Kirkman's awesome series "The Walking Dead," I have a neat creepy-crawly to share with my reading public (Hi, both of you!).

Cheesman Park, less than half a mile from my humble abode, is a lovely sprawling park that was converted from Prospect Hill Cemetery in the late 1800s.  Trouble is, when they cleared out the gravestones, they "forgot" to take a number of the inhabitants.

A few of them made themselves known this week.

No, there are no Poltergeist reports in the neighborhood, however construction crews putting in sprinkler systems discovered a few of our Western Outlaw predecessors. Read it from the pros here: Four Preserved Skeletons Unearthed.

The crews digging in the park yesterday evening were happy to point the direction in which the skeletons were found, and had a good chuckle about my asking.

For the trivia-inclined, Cheesman was originally Prospect Hill Cemetery, founded in 1859. As the city grew and the mansion-owning muckety-mucks in the area began to object about having tombstones as neighbors, the cemetery was converted to a park (and *most* of the bodies removed). The new park was named "Congress Park" after, well, Congress, who had permitted the conversion of this Federally-owned section of land.

Denver residents will surely find this fascinating, as what we think of as Congress Park (2.0) is just about a mile away. If one thinks about the geography, however, Cheesman and Congress 2.0 are separated only by the Botanic Gardens--different sections of the same original park.

Congress 1.0, aka the cemetery, was renamed "Cheesman" by Mayor Speer in 1907. Speer named the park in honor of Denver Union Water Company baron Walter Cheesman, whose family donated money to build the pavilion (anyone else remember swimming in those fountains as a child?).

And here's part of lovely Cheesman Park today. Can't you just imagine hordes of zombies struggling across that lawn?


  1. Maybe the guys from Ghosthunters should come and see if the park is haunted.

  2. In Toronto, therre is a graveyard called the Necropolis that replaced the previously existing Potter's Field that is under what is now Yorkville, one of Toronto's most upscale dining/shopping areas. The first graveyard in Toronto was a Catholic graveyard, so the Potter's Field was where any non-Catholics would end up, no matter their position in the city. The Necropolis was the first non-sectarian graveyard to be built, and many of the bodies from that first Potter's Field were moved there. However, I am pretty sure many of those bodies were left behind and still lay under the feet of the shoppers in Yorkville.

    Great story!

  3. Dag, it looks like much of the neighborhood is considered haunted (take a gander here:, and I know there are a variety of companies that do ghost tours.

    Stark, thanks! It's interesting to see that re-purposing graveyards is a common practice. At least they left the residents in place: years ago, I was surprised to see that in the Paris Catacombs the skeletons are piled every-which-way.