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.
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.
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.
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)
- * Old Huntsville Magazine
- Huntsville, Al wiki
- Huntsville Pilgrimage Association
- Huntsville Madison County Public Library Archives
Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy boys, wife of one, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Managing Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and also manages to conduct freelance marketing and PR work.