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The moon was bright, and the air was cold during the witching hour this night in Silver Cliff. The wind cut cold as it rode over the hills and danced through the gravestones on its way through the valley. Other than the cemetery, there was nothing but short prairie grasses to surf upon as it raced to the other side.
While we wandered through the graveyard, hoping for a glimpse of a discarnate spirit loitering around its headstone, a night bird sang to us. Its song was gently floating throughout the valley, carried by the wind.
It felt like a scene from a spaghetti western. We were a band of solemn, quiet, and patient paranormal investigators, watching and waiting to experience the unique phenomena that the Silver Cliff cemetery was known for.
Jason Cordova of the Metro State College Crypto Science Society had gotten permission from the city of Silver Cliff for his group to spend the night in their famous cemeteries. Some people quiver with fear at such a thought, but I was shaking with excitement like my Chihuahua when she sees me grab her leash.
Separate but equally strange
There are two cemeteries, one for the Catholics, and one for the Protestants. The prior being Silver Cliff Cemetery and the later is called Cross of the Assumption. Cross of the Assumption has a large white cross in it that appears to glow in the bright moonlight. Each is known for being host to glowing balls of light that meander from cemetery to cemetery and wander among the gravestones. The Silver Cliff website (now defunct) describes the phenomena: “The cemetery is famous for it’s unexplained ‘dancing blue lights’ seen on occasion and featured in the August 1969 National Geographic Magazine, Volume 136, No. 2.” These lights have been seen for many years.
Having heard the legends, we had to take a look for ourselves. When word got out that the college paranormal group was heading out there, some press took an interest. We had a reporter from the Southern Colorado Public Radio, a Denver Post reporter, and a few other lookie-loos come along. Read the Post article here.
We strategically set up our tents in different quadrants of the cemeteries so that we could have as much coverage as possible. We equipped everyone with radios, set up audio devices, prepared cameras and camcorders, and then buckled down.
Strange sights and sounds
One of the first things I noticed was that contrary to other reports, lights would reflect off of the gravestones. Although many are old and weathered, finely polished granite does not lose its reflectivity easily. Many headstones produced a reflection. I caught myself getting excited about a light in the corner of my eye only for it to turn out to be a reflection. Even though there are just a few houses and buildings that make up the town, and they are a mile away or more, reflections of their lights could be seen. The graveyard is still used, so not all of the gravestones are old. You can get a great deal on a plot. Over time I began remembering the locations of the shiny headstones so that I would not make a mistake again.
We soon observed another odd phenomenon. We could hear unusual sounds. I had not heard of reports of strange noises at the cemeteries. However, we soon discovered the source of the sounds. The cemeteries are on top of some rolling hills in a big valley. There are cows way off in the distance, and the wind carries their voices. Once in a while, you can hear them, making for an even more eerie experience.
All of these sensory experiences are magnified when you are spending the night in a graveyard. I can’t help but wonder if some people’s experiences are related to these effects. Still, this would not be able to account for all reports. One paranormal group had witnessed the strange glowing lights moving from one cemetery to the other.
As night turned to morning, and as the wee hours of the morning grew longer, one by one investigators retired to their tents. Many of us continued to wander the area alone, or in groups, or sit silently observing until everyone fell prey to the Sandman. I think I only slept an hour or two before the sun was up in its full morning glory.
Unfortunately, no one had any personal ghostly experiences that night. It was a clear night with a full moon, and the ideal conditions for the “Ghost Lights” is said to be when there is no moon and cloud cover. We were hoping for a damp night, but we had no such luck.
On a side note, my friend Rick and I were walking around enjoying the beautiful scenery in the morning. Silver Cliff is located in the Wet Valley right up against the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It is an incredible sight. As we were enjoying the view with a lovely, and clear high country sky, we heard a jet coming into the valley. It sounded like it was very low, and it was getting unusually loud. I always like to watch planes, and often you see awesome military jets flying around in the mountains of Colorado, especially in that area, it is near a military training zone. Rick and I looked for the plane excited to see what it might be. It got closer and closer, and it sounded like it flew right over us, but we never saw a thing!
Rick and I looked at each other bewildered. Neither of us had experienced anything like that. We heard the jet enter the long valley, fly through it, and leave, without catching a single glimpse. On top of that, it sounded as if it was flying very low and right over us. Just then a city worker drove up in a truck. We explained what we experienced, and he said it happened all of the time. He didn’t know what the heck was going on. It was as if the military was flying invisible jets.
Like I said it is near a military zone. It is possible that the jet was flying just on the other side of the mountain range so low that we couldn’t see it. I have seen them doing mock dogfights just over the smaller Wet Mountains east of there, but from experience, it sure sounded like it went right over us.
When we got back, it was time to analyze all of our findings. No one got anything of note, except for me. I had placed a sound recorder on a tombstone that I felt was in an exciting location. I talked to the occupant of the grave and thanked him, and apologized if I was disturbing him, just in case. I didn’t want some zombie crawling out of the ground and chucking my recorder at me. I also made sure that the recorder was as far away from where we were perched as possible so that it wouldn’t record our conversation. Although we were careful to speak quietly.
Listening to this recording in the office while I was working, I was shocked to hear moans. Every few minutes for half an hour, I could hear a very distinct moan. It was incredible and undeniable. My mind was spinning trying to figure out if there was a conventional answer for these strange sounds.
Still in awe of what I had found, we had another camping trip, this time to look for UFOs. Late at night, sitting around the campfire, my buddy Rick took a deep breath and let out this loud, long yawn. It was as if Chewbacca was sitting right next to me. It immediately hit me, that was the friggin’ moan I had heard on my recorder. It wasn’t a ghost; it was Rick’s Chewbacca yawn!
So we didn’t collect any evidence that night, but we do plan on going back. With all of the witness testimony, there must be something to the stories. Plus, I love the look on people’s faces when I tell them I am going to camp out in a cemetery for the weekend.
This story was originally posted in the now defunct Denver Examiner.