Riverdale Road



Vandalism on sign on Riverdale Road - Thornton, CO

Vandalism on sign on Riverdale Road - Thornton, CO

Thornton & Brighton, Colorado

The Legends:

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.

Some History:

Approximately 91st & Riverdale Road where the Wolpert Mansion would have once stood

Approximately 91st & Riverdale Road where the Wolpert Mansion would have once stood

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:

Riverdale Road During the Day

Riverdale Road During the Day

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.


Picture of Splattered Street Sign on Riverdale Road

Picture of Splattered Street Sign on Riverdale Road

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:

Related Links:

The Forgotten past of Adams County

Thornton – Riverdale Road

Denver Public Library – Online Newspaper Collection

Riverdale Road – Strangeusa.com

Haunted Colorado – Aurora Paranormal Investigators

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13 comments for “Riverdale Road

  1. Kumo
    October 14, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    you know, i’ve traveled this road without even knowing it. though thinking of it now i did feel a bit un easy but thats just how i feel always. i definately have to travel this road again with intentions of finding something

  2. lovely1
    September 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    when I was about 16 years old me and my friends use to hit this road all the time and to be honest we experienced alot of strange things, one time we were driving and had pulled over because i had seen a person hanging in a tree, as i’ve done further research i learned supposedly some hangings have occured there some time ago. another incident was when we made to the top of the “Gates of Hell” we got out of the car and stood silently for about 8-10 minutes and we heard what appeared to be tiny children laughing and playing we were so scared that we jumped in the car and took off leaving some friends who were in a seperate vehicle behind we had a meeting spot at the golf course incase anything like this ever happened and thats where the vehicle i was in proceeded to go as we arrived there we got out of the car beacuse something about that place makes us feel safe we walked to the back of the car to sit on the trunk and wait for the rest of our group when we seen tiny hand prints like they belonged to tiny kids about 4 years old. I believe the things that happen on that road are real and it does happen ALOT. If you don’t believe me take your ass up there one night but make sure you have people with you

  3. ColoradoKids
    January 7, 2013 at 4:57 am

    The night that the new Amazing Spider-Man came out, a couple of my friends invited me to the midnight premiere. We had about 3 hours until the movie started, so we decided to drive down Riverdale Road. We had been down this road before, but we had never seen anything paranormal. Just the “blood-spattered signs” and the darkened roads. We drove along the road for about an hour, and came up to a split in the road. As we stopped, a large owl flew down in front of the windshield and scared the hell out of us, causing us all to scream. We laughed it off, and reached where the road goes under the underpass for E-470. Upon inspection of the pillars supporting the underpass, we saw a shrine with flowers and pictures of someone who was killed in a car crash or accident of some sort. The flowers looked a couple weeks old, somewhat wilted. As we were getting to the end of Riverdale to go to the movie theater, we got lost. There were crossroads and road splits everywhere, and the friend driving our car got lost. Eventually, we found our way to the Orchard Town Center, and parked the car. Upon getting out of the car, the driver pointed out that there were small handprints on the windshield, right above the wipers. There was also scrawled, backwards lettering that could be read from the inside of the car. The driver got back in, and read out the sentence: “GET OUT.” This scared us enough to not travel on the road on our way home. Since then, I’ve only been on Riverdale twice, once with those same friends and once with my dad, and I’ve seen nothing as frightening as what happened on our way to the movie theater.

    • January 7, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Wow, how creepy that must have been, thanks for sharing your experience! We agree, Riverdale road does get quite confusing near it’s north end.

  4. joshua pilcer
    January 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Riverdale is some scary stuff at time. I’ve gone through the road a good 20 times. We would start on the road around 104th ave and start driving riverdale. When you reach the dirt road and continue on it rather than taking the right to follow riverdale, we decided to drive through it. Half way up there’s two gates, old metal gates that can be pulled open. We drove up the dirt road (private property so be carful!) and you hit an old oil rig. It sometimes running, sometimes not. The sound this thing makes sounds like some old tribal drums. After spending a few hours running around the field with cameras, lights, and recorders, we didn’t see anything out of the ordinary besides the weird presence of something being there. we got in the car, left the oil rig and went back to the dirt road. We kept driving to the end of the road (3 other people in the car) and that’s when a girl, all white, standing off in the tall grass. as we took a right, the car’s headlights swept the area from left to right, and that’s when the girl stood up, and in a matter of seconds ran the opposite way the headlights were moving and disappeared. Everyone in the car freaked out, I drove the car into the ditch, and completely destroyed my rim. Had to jump out of the car, push the car out of the ditch and continue on. After that we decided that it probably wouldn’t be smart to stay there anymore, so we started leaving riverdale. On the way out we say a large gray misty shadow figure, long like a fox/coyote, and ran in front of the car and never saw it leave the other way. It was so fast, i couldn’t get a good view of exactly what it was, but that just added onto the fear we already had from before.

    I’ve been to riverdale a few times after that, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. We parked the car, walked by the “hanging tree”, walked through the fields to find something, and couldn’t find anything. So recently it’s been pretty calm, but I don’t doubt I’ll see some crazy stuff again.

    If you want more information, or more background history of the place, I’m always happy to help since i’ve been investigating it for a long time. Also know of some other crazy places in north thorton and in the mountain towards blackhawk.

    Joshua Pilcer

  5. o rly
    April 1, 2013 at 6:19 am

    I’ve long since moved from that area (well 3 years or so), but I used to live a few blocks away from riverdale road in thornton.

    I used to travel that road at night too many times to count.. I actually didn’t know it was haunted for quite awhile. I used drive there when I was bored, or to take my mind off things. I always drove down it at night.

    I actually, for the most part found it very calming. I never for the most part saw animals, except for a few bunnies.

    I never saw anything, or heard anything… I never even thought anything about the signs.

    I once pulled over by the oil rigs (before I knew it was haunted), and changed the cd i was listening too. The air felt really eerie, so I didn’t stay pulled over for very long.

    Anyways, it may or may not be haunted.. I don’t know. I guess spirits don’t really want to communicate with me lol.

  6. Amber
    November 1, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    This road does creep me out, but me and two of my friends went up and down it from around 11 PM to 3 AM and didn’t see anything. We even sat in front of where we were pretty sure was the Gates of Hell and played with a Ouija board and nothing happened lol. Though I did notice red splatters on a few signs and big scratches that looked like claw marks on a deer crossing sign. Either way I love how creepy that road is and I kinda wanna try to find paranormal things there again lol.

  7. Dariann Hansen
    January 19, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Hello my fellow Coloradans, I lived in Thornton,Co my whole life and 2 of those years were on Riverdale Road in the houses by Colorado boulevard, but my house was 200 feet away from the road. I’ve driven on this road more than 20 times. as well as walk down it to go home with a friend. During these times I’ve encountered a few creepy experiences. One night in 2007 me and my friend were walking back from a friends house and once we started to walk down River dale road from Colorado boulevard, I noticed a tall man in all black like a shadow standing under the light that’s in front of the big yellow house. he was standing there the whole time even when we were getting closer. he was facing us, and when I blinked or turned my head he disappeared and when I got up to where he was he wasn’t hiding i walked down to see if he was hiding but there was no one. so we ran home after that. Then another time when i was driving with my husband a few days ago just for the fear and fun of it we went with nothing but a cell phone with a camera, and around where the road splits up into 3 other roads left right or straight and there’s a D tour sign kinda blocking the straight road so I went straight on the dirt road when it started to turn int a hill to where i cant see whats at the top we decided to turn around and go back, and while we were driving back I noticed a motor cycle got behind me from out of no where and it would ride my ass then back off a little I couldn’t see a rider or even a helmet reflection and when I looked away for a few seconds to watch the road when i looked again he was gone and there were no roads or anything for him to turn into we were going to fast and he didn’t turn on a signal… whats weird with the signs is you cant see anything until you get up close and fyi I know of some signs that actually have been shot with red paint ball guns and they never fade away not like that to the point where it only shows up when you get up close that could have been blood. The house I lived in I would always harrass spirits meanly to try to get them to communicate and finally after 1 year of trying and i would get nothing I finally had them show me I yelled do something to prove to me your real and they banged on the walls picked up clothes and threw them on the ground i seen this with my own eyes then they shook the stroller and then dumped and spreaded clothes all over the floor, i’ve always felt thst it was attracted from River dale road but I cant wait to post my new experience when i have it, i’m planning on walking around the area of the road once it passes 104th to do some investigation but I cant seem to find some friends brave enough to go with me but when I do I will let yaul know on here thanks for reading everyone safe travels!!

  8. Tamara Eberhart
    May 26, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    My husband and I are originally from South East Missouri. Which I do have some terrifying experiences from there.

    Anyway, the Army had brought us to Colorado 3 years ago from Fort Drum, Ny. My husband and I love exploring haunted places, and watching it on tv. I have not got to explore at all in Colorado. So I went searching for haunted place in or around Brighton since we just moved here a week ago. I ran across a lot of strange happenings for Riverdale Road. I Map Quested it and found we only live 6.14 miles from it. So sometime very soon my husband and I are planning on getting a sitter for our little ones for us to go and explore this road. We are happy to go along with more people in anyone is interested? If so email me at garden_of_eden18@live.com. Please be sure to put in the subject “Riverdale Road” so I know to look at the email :). I look forward to hearing from y’all!

  9. Tamara Eberhart
    May 26, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    I am so interested in going with you to investigate :)! Get a hold of me via email at garden_of_eden18@live.com. Please put in the subject bar “Riverdale Road”? Thanks!

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