Get outta town: Hillside Cemetery in Silverton

by Patty Templeton

Nobody knows how many bodies are in Boulder Mountain at Hillside Cemetery in Silverton. What ya got is a 20-acre boneyard with 142 years of internments chaotically situated between aspen, spruce, pines, and wild grasses.

If you like invigorating walks full of history, Hillside Cemetery should be on your go-to list before snows blanket the sometimes bold, often tragic, gravestones. There’s about eight times as many dead folks in Silverton as living, with Hillside containing over 3,000 graves, but then there’s all those unmarked graves …

The first burial was traced back to 4-year-old Rachel Farrow, a full 10 years before Silverton was incorporated as a town in 1885. After that, the six-foot-drop was pickaxed into the mountain for people blown to bits in the mines, folks hit by boulders, those eaten by bears and swept away in avalanches, and a whole slew of other early American maladies.

“The Story of Hillside Cemetery,” by Freda Peterson, is a two-volume account of the known graves at Hillside, which took Peterson over two decades to research and write. It’s worth perusing before you head up to Silverton to walk through the historic, hallow grounds. You can find both volumes at the Durango Public Library.

For details on Hillside Cemetery, visit www.silvertonhillside.com.

Patty Templeton

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