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Maple Hill Park’s “Dead Children’s Playground” Legend Lives On

Maple Hill Park’s “Dead Children’s Playground” Legend Lives On

  • 1351 McClung Ave SE, Huntsville AL
  • Open from sunrise to sunset year-round

Come closer, children
I’ll tell you a tale
Of sadness and laughter
From beneath the Veil.

We love to share Park Reviews with you, but this one is… well, special.

Tucked away behind the historic Maple Hill Cemetery, you’ll find a depression in a natural alcove. Nestled at the bottom of the rocky hillside, is a playground. It’s not an overly impressive park, but it is pretty in the daylight and surrounded by shady beech trees. There are swings and toddler-sized play equipment, and a covered pavilion with picnic benches. Not to mention lots of kids climb some of the rock outcrops and enjoy an elevated view from the top.

Some Huntsville History

In 1811, Huntsville became the first incorporated town in Alabama. The city was enjoying rapid growth thanks to the bounty of cotton fields and strategic position along the Memphis and Charleston Railroad Line, becoming the first railway to link the Atlantic seacoast with the lower Mississippi River. Business was booming. Maple Hill Cemetery was founded in 1822 – a year that Huntsville was bustling with activity.

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maple hill cemetery
Maple Hill Cemetery (photo by Kimon Berlin via Flickr Creative Commons)

In 1900-1901, Lincoln Mill Village, the Merrimack Manufacturing Company, Dallas Mill, and Lowe Mill were all opened. Mill owners actively encouraged the use of children as a “prime source of labor” and Huntsville newspapers praised the mills for teaching the kids “work ethics.” In Alabama, almost one out of every four mill workers was a child.* There were lots of accidents involving children.

In 1918, the Spanish Flu killed at least 50 million people worldwide, with over 400 succumbing in Madison County September of 1918. Many were children.

Maple Hill Cemetery was filling up.

Dead Children’s Playground Sightings

Orb-like flashes of light.
Sounds of children’s laughter.
Swings that swing by themselves consistently with no breeze.

This is where the children of Maple Hill Cemetery go to play. In my opinion, it’s a happy place in the daytime – a great spot with lots of shade to bring a picnic lunch and let the kids run and play.

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But at night, it is still… until the rusty squeak of the swing chains start up and you realize there’s no one else there.

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Originally published on Rocket City Mom October 30, 2015

Dead Children’s Playground Details

(Also known as Maple Hill Park)
Address: 1351 McClung Ave SE, Huntsville (map)




View Comments (3)
  • I think the Spenser administration missed a great opportunity when she decided to have to have this playground dismantled just before Halloween several years. There was a community backlash and the playground was allowed to stay. She should have thrown a huge city supported Halloween party there. I miss the UFO monkey bars…..

  • As someone who has an infant brother buried at Maple Hill this is rather disturbing and offensive.

    • Jenn – I’m sorry to hear about your brother, and am also sorry if this post offended you. As a Huntsville native I can attest that the unofficial name of this playground (not the cemetery itself) has been in use by locals since the late 1950’s. I’ve always found it a peaceful spot and, like many Huntsvillians, have many fond memories of spending time there – I hope that came across in the post. My intention on writing the post was to share some interesting Huntsville history with our readers and draw attention to a Huntsville Hidden jewel. In no way do I wish to disturb or cause pain.

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