Friday, April 24, 2015

Riverside Cemetery; Denver's Oldest Cemetery

I recently toured  Riverside Cemetery, Denver's oldest cemetery founded in 1876. Plenty of history and interesting sights abound in this park. It is referred to as Denver's Pioneer Cemetery. As you walk around and notice the dates on the headstones, as well as, many familiar last names (if you know your Colorado history) you can see why.

Riverside is home to three early governors and many other public figures. One thing about Colorado history is that if you are familiar with Colorado's topography and names of it's famous mountain peaks...then you already know many of Colorado's famous figures. And many of these famous people are buried in Riverside Cemetery. When approaching Samuel Elbert's headstone, I remarked to my professor (my tour guide), "Hey, is that the Mt. Elbert guy?" To which she replied with lack of amusement but slight smirk, "yes."

As my professor was eager to point out, cemeteries offer a slice of community history. Riverside offers a demographic tour of the cultures represented in early Denver. In one corner are buried Denver's first Japanese individuals, a community of Russian Orthodox in another, also African American, Italian, and several other ethnic communities represented.

There is also a large military section dating back to the civil war era. One of my personal favorite military persons in history is Silas Soule, who refused to take part in the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. He is buried in Riverside.

So, if you like history, photography, or old cemeteries come visit Riverside.

The cemetery sits amidst a dense industrial area of Denver. The cemetery has been in decline since its loss of water rights and the focus turned toward the more upscale Fairmount Cemetery (Denver's 2nd oldest cemetery).

(This is the headstone of Denver's first known Japanese resident; Tadaatsu Matsudaira, 1855-1888.)

(Vines growing on the outside of what was John Evan's mausoleum)

(Russian orthodox area)