The following text is from an article titled "The Rockies Pot of Gold" that ran in the August 1969 issue of National Geographic.


Eerie Lights Await Explanation

I recall quite vividly the last such town I visited before leaving Colorado--a place called Silver Cliff in the Wet Mountain Valley west of Pueblo. Today it counts about 110 year-round residents, where once 5,000 lived.

"Be sure to get there after dark," a fellow camper from Kansas had told me, "and drive out to the old cemetery. You'll see something mighty strange."

We had bounced about a mile out of Silver Cliff across pitch-black prairie when Bill Kleine, who runs the local campground, told me to pull up and switch my headlights off.

"Do you believe it?" I asked him. "About the lights in the graveyard?"

"I've seen them plenty of times. This is a good night for them-overcast, no moon."

We climbed out beside the old burying ground, and for long minutes I strained to see something, anything. Slowly, vague outlines of grave markers emerged, in ragged rows.

"There." Bill's voice was quiet, almost a whisper. "And over there!"

I saw them too. Dim, round spots of blue white light glowed ethereally among the graves. I found another, and stepped forward for a better look. They vanished.

For 15 minutes we walked about the place, pursuing one will-o'-the-wisp, then another. I aimed my flashlight at one eerie glow and switched it on. It revealed only a tombstone.

"Some people think it's phosphorescence," said Bill. "You know, from decaying wood in the crosses or something. Others say it's just reflections from the lights of Silver Cliff, or Westcliffe down there."

I looked back at the two towns. Those small clusters of lights seemed far too faint to reflect way out here. Still, it was possible.

"Only trouble is," said Bill, "my wife and I have both seen these lights when the fog was so thick you couldn't see the towns at all."

No doubt someone, someday, will prove there's nothing at all supernatural in the luminous manifestations of Silver Cliff's cemetery. And I will feel a tinge of disappointment.

I prefer to believe they are the restless stirrings of the ghosts of Colorado, eager to get their Centennial State on with its pressing business: seeking out and working the bonanzas of a second glorious century.


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