Colorado Springs’ Boot Hill Still Exists

On gentle rolling hills covered in native grasses, headstones and markers are scatted quite far apart and placed at odd angles. The dates are weather worn and many are lost to the decades of erosion on their granite, sandstone and limestone facades. Dating from a time before Colorado Springs was founded these hills would be more fitting to a small mountain town than to the big city.

Built a couple of miles east of the new town, these are the graves of pioneers. The graves were randomly placed long before convention dictated that we should all be lined up in a neat grid of tiny rectangular real estate plots.

By the way, in the interest of truth in journalism, I used the Boot Hill name as a way to get you to read this chapter. Don’t call it Boot Hill.

The location  was chosen on a couple of rolling knolls that overlook Cheyenne Mountain and the valley to the south. The view stretches for miles and it’s easy to see why this country hill was chosen.

 

Weathered Sandstone Grave Marker

The surprise is that this open grassland is still in tact and looks like it did 130 years ago. A bigger surprise is that it is within the city limits of Colorado Springs.

I was researching another chapter for this website when I stumbled across these sparse markers scattered in the distance. How could I have not know about this until 2019? I’m a history geek that grew up here! I don’t have an answer for that, but it made this discovery all the more exciting.

These hills are northwest of the overpass on Union Blvd and the Highway 24. They can be seen from South Union Boulevard if you know where to look. But don’t stop there. You can also drive right to this hillside and hike the area.

Explore this place yourself. These hills are adjacent to the Evergreen Cemetery at Hancock and Fountain Boulevard but appear as a world apart. You may enter Evergreen Cemetery during daylight hours. No need to check in unless you want to stop by the office for a map. Drive to the southeast corner of the cemetery. It is easy to find where the neat grids end and the grassy hillsides begin.

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There is a modern monument placed to honor these pioneers. Although it is not heavily groomed, the staff keeps the wild grasses mowed long.

If you wander this area, watch for cactus and prairie dog holes and I wouldn’t be surprised if a snake or two populate this undeveloped habitat just like any high prairie.

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Did you know that main curved road through the Evergreen Cemetery was once the path of a railroad line? You can read about it here! 

8 thoughts on “Colorado Springs’ Boot Hill Still Exists

  1. I’m so glad you clarified the Boot Hill title. This section is the Pioneer Section of Evergreen Cemetery. This is a great article, thank you for Shari g this history

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  2. Thank you for this information and
    Is there a story behind why we shouldn’t call that boot hill? 🤫
    I love the idea

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  3. Maryann, It wasn’t for me to create that idea, and out of respect, yet I used that tag to make the article more attractive! I’m glad you enjoyed the information, and hope you get a chance to wander the area this summer.

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  4. Also probably even lesser know is where the Colorado City (westside) boot hill was. I grew up in an old house very close to it.

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  5. Gene, you are right, and I am glad you asked. In Colorado City, I know of four.
    1) A very early one was near Red Rock Canyon, but it didn’t last very long.
    2) There was one near the intersection of West Pikes Peak Avenue and 7th street, but it was abandoned long ago.
    3) Another one was at the top of the hill on 26th Street, between Pikes Peak and Kiowa. This was removed in 1869.
    4) This may be the one you remember: Pioneer Park is the site of a memorial marker for the Pioneer Cemetery. This was active from the 1860’s to about 1935. Although they tried to relocate the buried, some remnants of the cemetery remained right up until the 1960’s. You can find this park and marker at the intersection of Frontier Blvd and Pioneer Road. This is on the Mesa, near Fillmore and Mesa Road. I have more information on this one if you are interested.
    Let me know how this turns out! Rocky

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  6. I am speaking of number 3 on your list at the top of the hill where 26th street dead ends into pikes peak ave. between pikes peak and kiowa street. I grew up in an old house at 2513 west kiowa st. The house was built in 1910 by one of the Golden Cycle Mill workers by the name of Mr Cahoun. Mr Cahoun was a very old man when he sold the house to my grandpa in 1957 and we moved into the house in 1959. The old house is still there and its actually now owned by a person I went to school with. I knew about the top of the hill being the old Colorado City boot hill because our neighbor across the street told us about it and Mr Cahoun had told him about it. How did you ever find any information about it? I have been trying for years to find out more than I already know and was not able to find any information about it. You could be wrong about it being removed in 1869. From what I heard, they dug up all the bodies with bulldozers in 1966 ( there was evidence of this with a lot of dirt piles everywhere on the top of the hill) and since it was a boot hill and nobody knew anyone who was buried there, I strongly suspect that they hauled them away to the city dump. I think this might have something to do with why ours and several other houses in the neighborhood were haunted. Also there is an old still standing brick building on 25th street that I think was the old mortuary back then. If you turn off of colorado ave. going towards pikes peak ave. only a half a block past colorado on the left side right next to the alley is where it is. I think at one time, there was a brick road that went from the mortuary up to the boot hill. I found parts of the old brick road while digging around in the dirt in our back yard when I was a kid. Also, just on the other side of the house next door to us, was an area where you could tell there was a path at one time leading up to the top of the hill. Also, (not that it has anything to do with this boot hill I am talking about) I was very aware of the oldest part at the far end of Evergreen cemetery. My uncle who is no longer alive but is actually buried at Evergreen, used to own a tree trimming business. In the early 1970s myself and my brother and my grandpa and uncle and the rest of the crew, trimmed all the trees at Evergreen. It was 1,749 trees that had never been trimmed. Some of the trees were rocky mountain ash and the wood was hard as rock. It would shatter into pieces when thrown through a wood chipper powered by a 383 chrysler engine.

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  7. Ok I was just checking it on google earth (I dont live in colorado anymore) and that old brick building that I think was the mortuary is a candy store now and the alley next to it is is not there anymore. It looks like they made the alley into a sidewalk.

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