DENVER — The Cheesman Park you know and love today used to be Denver’s first cemetery.
Prospect Hill Cemetery was first used by the city in 1858. But, because of Denver’s growth, the city decided to make it a park in the 1880s.
In 1893, the city gave family members 90 days to recover their loved ones remains, but only few people did because many of those buried in the cemetery were vagrants and criminals.
Denver then hired an undertaker named EP McGovern to remove the remains, give each body a new casket, and move them to Riverside Cemetery.
Since he was being paid $1.90 per box, McGovern found he could make more money per body if he used child-sized coffins. So he chopped up the bodies and put them in one or sometimes multiple 3-foot long coffins.
He left some behind and there are rumors that the spirits of those chopped up by the undertaker still roam Cheesman Park.
In 2008, when construction started on a parking garage for The Denver Botanic Gardens, which is located near the park, human remains and an estimated 40 coffins were found.
The botanic gardens promote their haunted past with “Ghosts in the Gardens” each October. The staff says there are countless ghost stories from both employees and guests.