Would you still visit a park if you knew thousands of bodies were below the surface?
“About 2,000 to 3,000 bodies are still said to be under the ground that we’re walking upon today,” said Rachel Strobolson with Denver Local Tours.
This is Cheesman Park in Denver, Colorado. The park is popular for exercise, biking, hanging out with friends, you name it. However this same plot of land was formerly the site of Mount Prospect Cemetery. Adjacent to it used to be Mount Calvary Cemetery, which is now the Denver Botanic Gardens.
“By 1893, with pressure from the residents in the area, we basically asked the city to change it from a cemetery to a park” said Strobolson. “We hire one undertaker, his name was E.P. McGovern, to exhume and remove the bodies.”
Strobolson leads haunted history tours of this area in the fall. She said McGovern was paid $1.90 per casket. He started breaking up exhumed bodies into multiple children's caskets to make more money. But, the public was watching.
“They soon realize what E.P. McGovern and his crew were doing. They basically call for E.P. McGovern's head, they cancel the contract, and they never finish the job,” she said.
Meaning bodies were left behind. To this day, people are still finding them. In 2010 for example, four skeletons were found during irrigation work.
“People that live along the edges of the park report people tapping on the windows even though there's no tree branches that are there,” Strobolson said. “The bodies are still underneath us, and to think that we’re all picnicking, our dogs are running around, we’re all just hanging out here in the park, is so fascinating to me.”
The area’s past has been the inspiration for books and even a movie.