STATUS: Open (original playground demolished)
Maple Hill Park
Founded in 1822, Maple Hill Cemetery is Alabama’s oldest and largest cemetery. In 1918, the Spanish Flu pandemic killed an estimted 50 million people worldwide; Huntsville, Alabama was hit particularly hard, arriving on September 25 and sweeping through the town in ten days. The Birmingham News reported on October 13, “A desperate situation exists in Huntsville growing out of the Spanish influenza epidemic. All druggists, physicians, and prescription clerks, except one, have been stricken with the disease, and a distressing appeal reached Montgomery last night in telegrams for immediate help for the stricken city.” While there is no official count of the number of children who fell victim to the Spanish Flu in Huntsville, it’s estimated to be in the hundreds. It’s believed that many of them were buried in plots around Maple Hill Cemetery.
According to urban legend, Huntsville experienced a drastic rise in child abductions during the 1960s. The bodies of the victims turned up in the area surrounding the playground. Both tales have earned the grounds the macabre nickname of “Dead Children’s Playground.”
The Dead Children’s Playground is speculated to be haunted by the spirits of the kidnapping victims and the children buried in Maple Hill Cemetery. Paranormal activity is most lively between 10 PM and 3 AM. The swings have been known to move on their own, sometimes in sync with each other. A few witnesses have reported seeing dust rise up as if someone jumped off of the swing. Disembodied voices of children calling out and giggling have been heard on the property. Photographers have captured images of mysterious orbs. In January 2008, the Alabama Paranormal Society performed an investigation and captured the voice of a woman or female child, a photo of a misty female apparition, and several images of orbs. There have been numerous accounts of floating cold ghost lights and apparitions of young children.
In fall 2007, with the historic Maple Hill Cemetery running out of room, the City of Huntsville elected to tear the playground down in order to make way for new graves. The demolition of the playground took place over a single night. With the locals outraged, the city subsequently remedied the situation by building a new playground.
- Alabama. “The legend of Alabama’s Dead Children’s Playground,” www.AL.com
- Atlas Obscura. “Dead Children’s Playground,” www.AtlasObscura.com
- Forgotten USA. “Dead Children’s Playground,” www.ForgottenUSA.com