Riverside Cemetery, Adams County

Address: 5201 Brighton Boulevard
Denver, Colorado 80216
(303) 293-2466

Take I-70 to the Brighton Blvd exit 275B. Go north on Brighton Blvd, past the stop light, and following the road as it curves to the east. Cemetery will be on the left (north) side of the railroad tracks, about 3/10ths of a mile after the curve. Look for a green sign with white lettering. It is easy to miss the turn! Also note that the train frequently blocks the entrance, which makes it impossible to enter (or exit) by car. Cemetery is open from 8 am - 5 pm daily.

Riverside Cemetery Fast Facts
GPS Coordinates: 39°47′39″N 104°57′33″W
Elevation:5048 ft
County:Adams and Denver
Number of Records: 67,000+
Number of Missing Markers: Only about half of all burial places were marked.
Number of Broken Markers: Thousands
Number of Irreparable Markers: Thousands
Overall Condition: This cemetery was noted by Colorado Preservation as one of Colorado's "Most Endangered" places in 2008, and received designation as a "Shaper of the American Landscape"
Date surveyed:Ongoing
Riverside cemetery covers 77 acres, and was planned as the area's first park-like, garden cemetery. The office is technically located in Denver, but the rest of the cemetery is in Adams County.

While cemetery lots are no longer being sold, it is possible to purchase space for cremated remains at the cemetery. If you are a plot owner, you can still be buried at the site.

The cemetery is owned and operated by Fairmount Cemetery Company. Volunteers from the Fairmount Heritage Foundation are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays to assist visitors with finding burial locations of loved ones.

One thing to note, is that it is not uncommon to get blocked into the cemetery by passing trains. Usually it is only a brief wait, however, it can be a minimum of 30 minutes of the train stops. Since there is but one car entrance, it can make for a frustrating experience.

Riverside is one of my favorite cemeteries, and I visit as often as possible. Each visit brings a new surprise, and reading the markers is like reading a map of Colorado. Evans. Ordway. Bennett. Routt. Elbert. Otero. All of these famous Coloradans are memorialized on Riverside's grounds.

Unlike most cemeteries in the east, Riverside did not have pre-determined blocks based upon race, social status or religious affiliation. This unique arrangement meant that, at least in death, all men at this cemetery were truly equal.

There are sections that were purchased by fraternal orders, unions or other groups, but, these sections are scattered throughout the cemetery. There is a military section (block 27), however, veteran's graves may be found throughout the burial grounds.

Block 12 was often used for the internment of infant remains, and most often, these were not the children of wealthy, so most of the graves are unmarked.

The center of the cemetery (block 7) is the resting place for some of the most prominent of Denver's early society, however, notable pioneers can be found in almost every block.

The innermost circle of Block 7, still called the "Iliff Circle," was the original site for the impressive sculpture marking the grave of John Iliff, Denver's "Cattle King," and the namesake for the Iliff Theological Seminary, as well as of Iliff Avenue. This monument was moved, along with Iliff's remains, to Fairmount Cemetery in 1920.

Be sure not to miss some of Riverside's unique markers. The Drake Cabin (block 4) is a full-scale replica of a mining cabin out of solid limestone. The life-sized monument of a horse marking the grave of Addison Baker, is the only statue of its kind, depicting a horse with nor rider or saddle.

Zinc (also called White Bronze) markers can be found throughout the cemetery, and the collection on the cemetery's grounds is the best in the world. There are more unique and excellent examples of this short-lived marker style at Riverside Cemetery than anywhere else.

Riverside Cemetery Transcript (incomplete)Map
Gallery Map (in Progress)Photos
Books: Denver's Riverside Cemetery: Where History Lies by Annette Student
Pioneer Cemeteries: Sculpture Gardens of the Old West, by Annette Stott
While this book is not only about Riverside, it features prominently in a few chapters, one about its zinc monuments and the other about M. Rauh monument company.
Websites: Friends of Historic Riverside Cemetery
Fairmount Heritage Foundation
Find a Grave
CoGen Web Project
Riverside Tour Booklet, co-written by Kate Barnes