Knights of Pythias Cemetery – Black Hawk, Colorado - Atlas Obscura

Knights of Pythias Cemetery

Black Hawk, Colorado

The burial grounds of a secret society includes fences topped with fake Tesla balls. 


The dead brothers of a secret fraternal society lie buried within a tiny Colorado town. Their sliver of cemetery is surrounded by other graveyards, all part of a sprawling burial grounds located near a historic mining settlement. 

The Knights of Pythias, which was founded in 1864, was the first United States fraternal organization to receive a charter from Congress. The organization’s creation was inspired by a play written by Irish poet John Banim. The play was about the legend of Damon and Pythias, which centers on themes of loyalty and friendship. Originally, new members were gifted a sword upon their induction (though that tradition no longer occurs).

The organization was born in Washington, D.C., though it spread across the continent as more and more pioneers moved westward in search of jobs and gold on the frontier. Now, there are roughly 2,000 lodges, as well as many cemeteries, scattered across the country.

This Colorado cemetery houses a handful of older graves, all backdropped by spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains. Some are surrounded by small fences topped with Tesla balls as a nod to Tesla, who built an experimental station in a nearby town. The remains of an old mining structure also rust on the site. 

It is located across from an Independent Order of the Odd Fellows cemetery, another noteworthy fraternal society. This burial site is worth exploring, too. Body mounds curve skyward and, according to some, ghostly spirits lurk among the grounds.

Know Before You Go

Take your time and visit this one and the one across the dirt road. There is so much history and trying to imagine the hardships of these pioneers leaves you in awe. Also, if you are a ghost hunter, bring equipment. There seem to be things that make your cell phone die or go on and off for no reason.

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