Archaeologist: Eldridge park likely contains 40-50 unmarked graves

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IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Dozens of people are likely buried underneath an Eldridge park, according to the final report from a state archaeologist.

On Thursday, June 1, professor Glenn Storey explained the results from his University of Iowa lab. He used black-and-white images, created using computer software, to explain.

"I have two, at least two, really very clear rows of graves, not far from where the church was," said Storey.

Earlier this month, Eldridge leaders voted to hire an archaeologist to put some long-standing town rumors to rest. Using ground penetrating radar, Storey traced the park property that was once the site of a Presbyterian Church, until a tornado destroyed the building in 1918.

The results, Storey said, are clear.

"I think there are definitely coffins, and I suspect that several of them must be metal, because they stand out so well," said Storey.

In fact, the radar shows as many as 40 or 50 unmarked graves.

"I think they're fairly shallow... it's not six feet under. They're much shallower, and I think that's kind of typical of a lot of cemeteries in Iowa," said Storey.

Storey says it's rewarding work, and even though the images are tough to read, they're helping bring the community's history into focus.

"Remembering human individuals is one of the most important things that we can do to honor our ancestors and to say we care about the past," said Storey.

Eldridge leaders have done some research, and they have actually learned the names of several people believed to be buried in the park.

Storey said many cities choose to put up a marker in their honor.