View the Changing Aspens in a Graveyard

Last weekend I did something unexpected, instead of viewing the changing leaves in well known areas such as Kebler Pass or Maroon Bells; I saw the changing leaves in an old graveyard.

It was my lovely friend’s idea and I can say that it was much more invigorating than just seeing  trees on a roadside pass. Nestled in the town of Central City lies a series of cemeteries. The most notable one in the area is called Knights of Pythias Cemetery.

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I sadly cannot find too much info on the history of this particular cemetery. It does not seem to be the only grave-site with that name in the United States. Doing a bit of research, I have found that the Knights of Pythias is a secret society that was founded in the mid to late 1800s. In order to become a member of the Knight of Pythias, you must be over the age of 18, not drink or gamble and believe in a supreme being. Interesting enough, famous figures such as Louis Armstrong and Franklin D. Roosevelt are reported as being part of this society.

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Kinights of Pythias 1880s in Leadville, CO by Mike Macey @Colorado Museums

As for the cemetery itself, the majority of the grave-site is filled with tombstones from some of the earliest settlers in Colorado.  You can even find graves that note the deceased had originally been born in England.

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The graveyard is a marvel with certain spots being left to be completely engulfed my nature and some spots being continuously kept. I kept overlooking so many graves due to the fact their headstones had already toppled over or had become buried. Aspen trees are literally everywhere, even sprouting from the graves themselves.

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The grave-site of an unknown man. 1825-1879. Many admires come by with offerings.

You’ll find modern graves here as well, either from prominent families in the area or from fans of the area. I found a remote site in a far corner that was adorned with balloons, gifts, beer cans, and blunts. It turns out that I visited that site on the deceased birthday and someone had recently visited to celebrate.

It seems like many have a desire to be buried at the cemetery and it’s no wonder this area full of aspen trees is a wondrous site. Despite being a resting place for the dead, this graveyard seems to be full of such vitality.  Even if you are  wandering around a graveyard; you can still feel at peace listening to the aspen leaves blowing in the wind, all while looking down at the mountain town below.

Walking around I found urns, sprinkled ashes, and other personal tokens left to honor loved ones who had passed on. One of the best things I found during my visit was a pair of two aspen trees with branches with branches that reach out just like embracing arms. I fondly called these two “The Dancing Aspens”. Below them you will find a sign that reads “Do death do us part?”

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“The Dancing Aspens”.

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There is still so much more to the area that I did not have a chance to explore. One can spend hours in this area trying to unravel all of its hidden secrets. This is a great area to enjoy some fall foliage as well as soak up a little bit of Colorado history. The last week in September to the first week of October seems to be peak time to visit this area.

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-Shanna Farley

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