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Riverside Cemetery

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1876, Harvey C. Lowrie. 5200 Brighton Blvd. (at Welby Rd.) (NR)

Colorado's first cemetery park lies mostly in Adams County, with a portion in Denver. Harvey Lowrie, a civil engineer and the Denver municipal surveyor, laid out its curvilinear carriage drives and landscaped grounds beside the South Platte River. Rather than “a boneyard [that is] the most shunted and neglected suburb of the city—given over to owls and bats,” the original Riverside Prospectus called for “a much frequented and delightful park.”

The original Gothic Revival stone caretaker's cottage (c. 1880) survives, along with a Mission Revival crematorium and office (1903, Frank E. Edbrooke). The 25-foothigh monument of cattle baron John Wesley Iliff, a classical female figure atop a granite column, stood as the centerpiece of Riverside inside the now vacant central circle, Block 7. As railroads, industry, stockyards, and smelters moved into the area, Denverites sought newer, more fashionable, and more pastoral burial grounds. Iliff's family moved his monument to Fairmount Cemetery. Even after death, prominent pioneers did not want to be found on the wrong side of the tracks. Yet some 66,000 remain interred in Riverside, which is a treasury of early and eccentric tomb-stones and mausoleums.

Fairmount Cemetery Association bought Riverside in 1890 and has operated it since. One of the many unusual monuments is a five-foot-high limestone replica of the log cabin of miner Lester Drake. Exquisite details in the solid stone cabin include a pick and shovel beside a door with the latchstring out. Many other intriguing old markers survive, reflecting the generally sentimental and traditional tastes of Colorado's pioneers.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel

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