When traveling through Thornton, be aware of Riverdale Road. The road was constructed in the early 1900’s and was at first merely a path strung between farms. According to local legends, the area around the road may be the source of the paranormal activity, as the town of Riverdale’s legends are steeped in tragedy. The road itself runs from Brighton’s Highway seven to Northeast Denver where it splits. On this road, it is said, the ghostly guardians of the past roam.
The name Riverdale Road is due to the nearby South Platte River, which the road runs parallel to. Several locations along the road have seen the bloody history of the US‘ formative years of western expansion and industrialization. In the 1700’s, according to legend several people were killed while working under abusive conditions in the smelters. Often the smelters were populated by migrant workers, primarily Eastern Europeans who were simply looking for a way to make out a living in the harsh and unforgiving landscape. In 1880 the area became a truck farm complex, growing sugar beats and pushing workers in conditions seldom better than those found in chain gangs. Through all of these memories, however, nothing compares to the skeletons in the closet held in a collection of hills at the northwestern-most end of the road some three hundred feet in height and eerily uniformed as though not made by natural forces. In this area is the place rumored by local teenagers to be the site of the most powerful ghostly energies. It’s a place known to the locals as “The Gates of Hell.” Locals sometimes tell of what happened there so many years ago in whispered tones as they pass by.
The legend is as follows: In the 1980’s, during the great cult scare that swept America, one of the few places to actually turn out to be a cult resided here within a massive building and personal residence. When the cult was finally found out, they discovered among the bizarre rituals, the drinking of blood would be included, and at one point the cultists had even murdered a child. The cult was disbanded, among several suicides, but the building remains. Some who have passed the building report strange demonic dogs that will leap from the shadows at cars that are caught alone on the highway, chasing them and eventually disappearing. Other legends have it that the dogs will only appear if you exit your vehicle and walk around it, as they are allegedly protecting the building. As you circle your vehicle they will walk from the shadows and lock eyes with you. If you run they will chase you into your vehicle until you drive away. It’s not known what happens if you don’t run.
Elsewhere along the road it’s said a woman in white waits at the side of the road. If you attempt to stop your car next to her to let her in, she’ll slowly walk toward the passenger side door, but then just before reaching for the door handle, will vanish. The story of one such man who had this encounter says that as he drove back to town he was still shaken by his encounter when he looked into his rear view mirror to confirm that no one was there. As he did so, however, he noticed the woman again sitting in his back seat staring at him blankly.
Of course the most widely practiced ritual on Riverdale Road is simply parking and listening very carefully to the sounds of the night. Some who suffer a blowout on the road, or who have their car inexplicably die on them say that if you listen carefully to the sounds of the night soon you’ll hear tortured screams. As the screams get more intense, they will eventually become unbearable. Some have said they have had to cover their ears to block it out as they wait on the road for rescue to come.