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Ghost Lights of the
Silver Cliff Cemetery
By Patty Quinn
Many people believe this to be an old ghost
legend. It has been carried down since the beginnings of the towns
of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff. The legend is the ghost lights of
the Silver Cliff Cemetery.
Up until two
months ago, I myself would have written this legend off as a bit of silly
fun. No longer will I say this, for I have seen them in person.
It began as a family history project. My
grandfather is buried in the Silver Cliff Cemetery. Now, it should
be noted that there are actually two cemeteries - one is for the
Catholics, one for the Protestants. I'm told the one granddad is
buried in is the Catholic Cemetery. The other one is called the
Cross of The Assumption Cemetery.
Silver Cliff Cemetery, photo by Doug Welty, courtesy Xobic Cemetery
My sister and I,
along with two friends, decided to investigate these lights for
ourselves. We arrived at about 8:00 p.m. on a night this
past July. After visiting granddad's grave and saying a few
words, we drove another few hundred feet to the Cross of The
Assumption Cemetery and settled in. Two of us were armed with
cameras, one a digital, and the other a cheap pocket camera. I
will state right here - I did NOT have a flash capability on my cheap
pocket camera. The digital camera was NOT set for flash, and it
did not go off at any time.
The four of us more
or less separated once we got there. My sister stayed with the
car and sat on the hood. We three started off walking around. I'll admit I'm a "fraidy cat" and I didn't leave my friend's side.
His wife, however, took off on her own and wandered around all over
Around 9:00, the
first lights were seen. They were small, most about the size of
a pinky finger nail. They ranged in color from blue to green to
white to yellow, and various combinations of these colors. As
time went on, the lights became more numerous, larger, and more
active. Some seemed to be extremely active, darting from
headstone to headstone, never stopping. Others seemed to float
in a "lazy fashion," landing in the grass, on headstones, just
By 10:00, many were
as big as 3-4 inches in diameter, and many glowed brightly. As
we stood facing the large white marble cross in the center of the
cemetery, we all noticed an orangish glow begin. It was to our
left, at the extreme border of the cemetery. As we watched it,
the glow became larger, brighter, and seemed to luminesce. It
grew to the size of a football and resembled the glow of a campfire.
The various lights
seemed to start gravitating toward this glow. They would dart
toward it, then return, landing here and there. We tried approaching,
but as we got closer, the light became dimmer. When we
retreated, it began glowing brightly again.
One odd occurrence was with the large
cross. Made of a white stone (probably marble), in the night it
had a "ghostly" pale gray white cast to it. My friend with the
digital camera (an amateur photography buff) took a picture of it. The result in her view lens? The cross glowed a dull, deep red. Running up one side of the cross was what resembled a string of teeny,
tiny Christmas lights. They appeared to be shooting towards the
The other odd occurrence
was with my friend. As she walked along through the cemetery, we all
noticed that some of the lights seemed to start "following" her. They danced around her and stayed right with her. When we tried
getting near to her, they would move away. When we retreated, they
would come back. She could see them around her.
As 11:00 approached, the lights were now close
enough to us that we could reach out and almost touch them. They no
longer moved away from us, nor did they dim. I can state positively
they were NOT fireflies nor glowing bugs of any kind. It was as if
you were touching air.
What we saw, I don't
know. But I do believe. And I do want to state this - people
claim that it's caused by the town lights reflecting up into the sky and
back down onto the tombstones. They state that it's stars reflecting
off the shiny surface of the tombstones. I'd like to make a point
here, something that I have not seen pointed out.
Silver Cliff in 1882, Ted Kierscey Collection,
Narrow Guage Circle
These tombstones are OLD,
for the most part. They are aged and weathered. ANY shiny
surface on 90% of them has long since worn away. They are dull,
dirty and look very much as old as they are. What's left on them to
reflect? And, since dried, prairie grass does NOT reflect anything,
what could explain them being in the grassy sections?
The conditions the night
we were there - no moon, no stars. Cloudy, overcast, a bad storm
moving in (which actually started the forest fire in Southern
outside of Pueblo.) No, they were NOT from the lightning. That
was striking a good 60 miles from us.
And if they ARE
reflections from the lights in town, can anyone explain why they have been
seen up there since BEFORE there was electricity in the area? That
rules that "explanation" out completely.
I have also not yet ran
across any articles of people actually being able to get near enough to
them to reach their hands out to touch. We did. We took our
time, stayed almost totally silent for the almost 4 1/2 hours we were
there. We were slow in our movements, almost sluggish. We were
gentle when talking about them, keeping our voices to an almost whisper. We spoke about them with a reverence and awe, which seemed to feel right
to all of us.
When we did finally call
it a night and retreated to the car, we were surprised to find them all
around the car, once again, close enough to touch. They did not
diminish in our headlights as we left.
I believe they are of the
Sidhe. (pronounced shee-Gaelic for fairies.) And whatever they may
be, I DO now believe.
Submitted by: Patty Quinn, September, 2005
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