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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, be-cause 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 '80s, Colorado Springs had moved its first burial grounds, a few blocks away from the 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 Cem-etery was pretty well abandoned. A movement to get the families to move graves to Evergreen or Fair-view 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.

Editorís note: Cobweb Corners columns are ar-chived at westsidepioneer.com.