The Ghost Lights of Silver Cliff Cemetery, Colorado

Silver Cliff sign


Silver Cliff is west of Pueblo on Colorado Highway 96.

The cemeteries are about a mile south of town on Mill Street. Both cemeteries are fenced with barbed wire, and have cattle guards for gates. Assumption Cemetery has a metal arch with the name. Silver Cliff Cemetery has a wooden sign that had been knocked down; the sign also identified it as the home of the ghost lights reported in National Geographic.

When we visited the site, Mill Street was clearly marked where it crossed the highway. Mill Street is only paved near the highway, and you will cross a cattle guard well north of Silver Cliff Cemetery.

Silver Cliff Cemetery is roughly 8020 feet above sea level.

Ysengrin and DarkFang Visit the Site
January 19, 2000

Under the nearly full moon, DarkFang and I drove to the Silver Cliff Cemetery. We had heard rumors of the ghost lights there, and decided to go see for ourselves. According to what information we had it was the wrong sort of night to see the ghost lights, as they seem to prefer overcast, moonless nights. However, this was the only night we both could visit the graveyard.

We found the drive out Highway 96 to be quite scenic as it wound its way through the Wet Mountains. We had little difficulty finding the two cemeteries, both within easy sight of the lights of Sliver Cliff. The air was still and very cold, and the distant moonlit mountains formed a fitting setting for our visit. (Note: all these photos had exposures of 20 seconds or more.)

We visited the Assumption Cemetery first, not knowing which cemetery was home to the ghost lights.

The photo to the left is of the entrance gate; DarkFang posed for the entire length of the exposure while I stepped into the frame after tripping the shutter. The camera is facing East, and the Wet Mountains are along the horizon.

Central to this graveyard is a large standing white cross, quite striking in the moonlight, especially as there are virtually no bushes and no trees here and the grass is kept short. The Sangre De Christo (Blood of Christ) mountains are in the background.

A quick survey suggested that this cemetery is fairly recent, as we found no older (pre-1900) markers. The cemetery is still in use.

Afterwards we both commented on how peaceful this place was.

Next we went back up the road to the Silver Cliff Cemetery -- we found a knocked down sign identifying it. Several headstones bear dates before 1890, and the cemetery is still in use.

Most of the headstones are marble, though a few are iron (like the one pictured to the left) and a very few are wood.

There are several well-established shrubs over some of the grave sites, obscuring the older markers. Many families had plots surrounded by low iron fences, as did some individuals.

The lights at the base of the distant mountains are far-off street and house lights.

Certain graves attracted us; one covered in closely set bricks, another heaped over with broken rock and concrete, and one with a thick eroded wooden marker. Small plastic American flags on sticks were set at several of the more modern graves, and the infrequent wind would set them to fluttering, the motion catching our attention. Still, for the hour or so we spent prowling the cemetery and taking pictures, we saw no certain sign of the ghost lights. There was a tension in the air here that was not present at the Assumption Cemetery, but no manifestations.

The National Geographic article suggests that there were many more wooden markers back in 1969; by 2000 there are very few left. If the ghost lights were foxfire on the decaying wood then there will be very few left as well.

DarkFang has said he will visit the cemeteries again when the conditions are more like those when the ghost lights have been seen.

All images and text on this page © 2000 by Wolfhom.

Check out the text of the National Georgraphic article or a San Jose Mercury News article.