Thornton & Brighton, Colorado
Search for Riverdale Road in Thornton, Colorado on the internet and you will run across some pretty terrifying stories. The claims about this 11 mile long stretch of road between Thornton & Brighton, Colorado vary and include everything from entities taking animal form to Native American curses to full bodied apparitions. Somewhere on the north end of the road before it ends at Highway 7, there are stories of a man who after being possessed by a demon, burned down his house murdering his entire family. There are supposed to be iron gates where the property used to be, and the area is often known as “The Gates of Hell”. There are also stories of satanic rituals performed in a field near the road and claims that an entire community of satanists once lived in the area. There is also an old dairy on the road where one of the trees on the property is rumored to have been the hanging site of two accused witches long ago.
The street signs along this stretch have a reputation for being especially creepy. Witnesses have noticed what appears to be blood spatters and hand prints on the signs at night, and many believe that the spirit of a boy who was killed while walking to school on this road is responsible. Other sightings along this stretch of road include a phantom jogger and a lady in white who wanders along the side of the road.
There is also an urban legend in this area revolving around animals. According to the claims, angels and demons (or at least good & evil entities) wander the area in the form of animals. If you encounter a gray fox on your travels you’ve run into an evil spirit and should beware, although the sighting of a coyote is welcome because the coyote represents a good spirit who is watching over you.
We decided to take a look at the history of the road and compare it to the claims to see if any could be validated. While we couldn’t find any proof of a man who lived on the road going insane and murdering his entire family by burning down his house, we did find evidence of a well known house burning along the road. The property that burned was known as the Wolpert mansion and was built in 1864 near the southern end of the road by David Wolpert. After his death in 1909, the house was used as an inn for cowboys, as a gambling den, a house of prostitution and even a race horse ranch. Rumor has it that it was even lost in a card game once by a drunken owner. In 1975, the chicken house burned down and after battling the blaze, the fire department reported to the county that the house was a fire hazard and the tenants were forced to vacate the property. Although unoccupied at the time, in an unfortunate twist of events, the mansion itself burned to the ground in December of that year. No one died in this fire, but it was the only report of a notable fire along the road we were able to identify (although, granted, we did have limited access to newspapers prior to the 1980’s).
As far as deaths and other unfortunate events along the road there are plenty. Because of the winding and hilly nature of the road it is not easy to navigate and can be especially dangerous to drive in bad weather or at night. One of the most notable things we discovered when driving on the road at night was that there was a lack of any sort of street lighting so it was no surprise to find report after report of deaths and injuries related to traffic accidents in area newspapers which we were able to search back into the 1980’s. We also found articles about a couple of murders along the road including a bullet riddled body which was found near 104th Avenue and the body of a young woman being found along the road. We even found an article detailing an encounter between a SWAT team and a man who had barricaded himself inside his home, and a couple more detailing how other bodies have been found along the road.
The amount of death and tragedy the road has been witness to no doubt has fueled the stories surrounding it, but are any of the paranormal claims true?
What we found:
After reading a story about Riverdale road online, we realized that we lived very close and decided to take a drive down the road just to see if we could confirm or debunk any of the claims. Now just so you know, we are not paranormal investigators and did not take any sophisticated equipment, just a simple digital camera with us – we were mostly curious to get a feel for the road, check out the creepy signs and see if we noticed any wildlife on the road.
When driving along the road – which is now paved, but still fairly isolated, it’s easy to see how people would get spooked out there especially if they were driving alone. Once you get north of 104th Ave, the street is dark… very dark – there are hardly any lights to be found. The road is a narrow two lanes and is full of twists, turns and hills which makes it a rather dangerous drive if you aren’t careful. It’s easy to see how so many people have lost their lives here due to traffic accidents.
The first thing we noticed as we drove were the unusual splatterings on the street signs. They were definitely splattered with something, but it was difficult to tell what it was. Some of the signs were clearly vandalized with bullet holes, but interestingly enough the dark splotches we noticed on nearly every street sign would disappear as we got close to them. As we drove up and down the road a few times and even got out of the car to look at the signs, we decided that it was likely the result of some type of vandalism. Perhaps it was eggs being thrown at the signs which left a sticky film which is invisible during the day but shows dark on the signs in the headlights of a car at night, or maybe it was a film or damage to the sign left by something like a paintball gun after the paint has been washed away. Whatever is on the signs appears to be something normal out of this world though and probably not paranormal. NOTE: We confirmed with an individual who lives at 104th & Riverdale Road that these splatterings are from paintball guns, as they’ve witnessed the shooting of the signs personally.
As far as sightings of animals, we only encountered a red fox along the road, so we cannot speak to the legends regarding the entities wandering the road in animal form. We did see two entrances to the old dairy but it was difficult to determine which tree was rumored to be a hanging tree. We did encounter a few other people along the road, but all seemed to be as solid and living as the rest of us.
Unfortunately we were unable to determine (even during the day) which old set of iron gates is known as “The Gates of Hell” as there are many old gates along the road, especially near the north end, and any remaining signs of a burned down house & coop seem to have disappeared long ago.
Riverdale Road is a beautiful stretch of road during the day and is sufficiently creepy at night to breed stories of the paranormal. The road’s past certainly makes you wonder how many beings from the other side continue to wander along this well traveled road. While we were able to discount some of the claims to mere vandalism, we didn’t collect any other evidence along this road to determine whether or not it is truly haunted. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Should you decide to venture forth to visit this road yourself, there are many homes and farms along the road where families value their privacy. Many of the properties along the road have clear “No Trespassing” signs posted, so as always, please respect the privacy and property of these homeowners as you pursue your adventures in the paranormal.
We did find this YouTube video of a possible EVP collected on this road, judge for yourself:
Denver Public Library – Online Newspaper Collection
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