Group dedicated to improving, preserving Dillon Cemetery
DILLON – When the Dillon Cemetery moved from old Dillon to the current townsite in 1960, some of the new gravesites were labeled with temporary markers. More than 40 years later, many of those markers remain.
“On many of them, the nameplate is either not legible or is gone,” said Dillon Councilmember Lorin Gardner, who spearheaded the formation of the Dillon Cemetery Advisory Committee.
Members of the newly formed group plan to rectify that situation, along with many others. The committee, which began meeting about two months ago, is dedicated to improving conditions at the cemetery while maintaining its historic character.
That historic character is considerable.
From the 1920s through the late 1950s, Denver Water acquired 4,584 acres in Summit County for the construction of the dam. Those purchases included the land on which the town of Dillon was then located, at the confluence of the Blue, Snake and Ten Mile rivers. Denver Water helped move the town to its current site, and that included relocating the 327 bodies buried in the Dillon Cemetery.
Denver Water paid Western Vault Company of Holyoke, Colo., to move those graves to the new cemetery east of new Dillon on Highway 6.
“Relocating Dillon’s cemetery proved the most agonizing task,” local author Mary Ellen Gilliland writes in her book “Summit.” “Rumors of bubonic plaque issuing forth from disturbed gravesites spooked workers.
“Gold-seekers, Dillon pioneers and railroad laborers, ladies of the night and unidentified miners had, til 1960, rested in peace in the old cemetery.”
Since then, many more people have been buried in the Dillon Cemetery. Many locals choose to bury their loved ones there because of the facility’s remote location, stunning mountain views and natural landscaping.
But Gardner thinks it merits more attention than it’s been given.
“The care of the cemetery was in the hands of the (former) town manager,” he said. “She had enough work to do without going out there and picking up beer cans and slash. For the good of the cemetery, I felt it needed a committee. It deserves better care and it will get that care now.”
In addition to replacing the temporary markers with sturdier ones, committee members are considering enhancing the landscaping, adding a sprinkler system, and constructing a small pavilion to host events such as the annual Memorial Day ceremony.
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