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COBWEB CORNERS: The Westside's forgotten cemetery

By Mel McFarland

       I have talked many times about this landmark. I was involved, over 30 years ago, in researching its history. I am often asked about it, because an amazing number of residents near it do not realize that it was a cemetery. If you do not know of Pioneer Park up on the Mesa, it was originally called Pioneer Cemetery.
       This dates back to when the main road to Colorado City was what we know today as 30th Street. Those living on the Mesa know the ground up there is mainly gravel. In the 1860s a few tried to farm it, to not much success.
       It is unknown who was the first buried there, but it was what old cowboy stories talk about as "boot hill." Most of the headstones were wood, which is curious, because of the easily available sandstone slabs and rocks in the neighborhood.
       There was not much early record-keeping, but once Colorado City started to grow in the 1870s and '80s the cemetery was regularly used.
       In the 1880s, Colorado Springs had moved its first cemetery from a few blocks away from Antlers Hotel, to the new Evergreen Cemetery.
       After Colorado City opened Fairview Cemetery in 1895, the use of the mesa cemetery declined. By the 1930s, Pioneer Cemetery was pretty well abandoned. A
The monument in Pioneer Park explains how it covers an area that was used as a graveyard many years ago.
Westside Pioneer photo
movement to get the families to move graves to either Evergreen or Fairview was difficult, as many of them could not be contacted.
       The land had a few grave markers, fences and signs of the blocks. Newspaper stories every now and then would renew the field's history.
       In the '50s and '60s development of the area raised the ghosts again. The builder and the city decided to put a park at the location. No one was sure just how many might still be buried there. The ground had been graded to the point where no one was sure just how deep some of the graves really were.
       In the '70s an effort was made to locate graves, using metal detectors, and what were likely to be coffin handles were located. Several days were scheduled for the work. One of the graves said to have remained in the cemetery was reported to have a cast iron coffin. That one was not exactly found, but is suspected to be under the stone marker in the park.
       I was part of that grave-mapping project. The plaque on the marker explains some of the history.

(Posted 3/9/17; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Editor's note: Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

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