If you happen to be in the area of the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, you might be interested to know that there is more to the airport than most people realize. Runway 10 is home to the graves of a married couple who died in the 1800s. The State reports that Richard and Catherine Dotson originally were farmers on the outside of Savannah back when it was called Cherokee Hills. Catherine died in 1877 and her husband seven years later. There were some 100 graves at the family cemetery where they were buried, including the graves of slaves.
It’s not unusual for airports to be built on farmland, including family burial sites. In most cases, the graves are moved to other cemeteries in the area but when the Savannah airport expanded during World War II, the Dotson family was insistent that the patriarch and matriarch of the family did not move. That is how the graves were embedded into the airport runway. The airport itself eventually grew but 75 years later, the couple is still on the edge of the runway.
The stones are not located in the middle of the runway so family members are still allowed to visit. Of course, they can’t leave flowers. The airport director told the Savannah Morning News, “People shouldn’t be creeped out about this, though. When the runway was extended, it was found that really only the markers were left of the graves.” “At rest,” reads the man’s grave which includes a slab of concrete flat on the pavement. The grave is located on the edge of the runway 10 and 28. The wife’s stone reads: ‘Gone home to rest’.
The Insider says that the graves are “the only ones in the world embedded in an active 9,350-foot runway.” They are the burial sites of farmers who originally owned the land, Richard and Catherine Dotson. Two other graves are also located nearby in the brush of relatives Daniel Hueston and John Dotson.
Shannon Scott, who works for the Bonaventure Cemetery, said, “It makes Savannah pretty unique. Most of those graves were moved out here to Bonaventure Cemetery, and four of them were left in, essentially, the runway. To me, that is sort of the quintessential Savannah: A city built on top of its own dead.”
Stan Deaton, a senior historian for the Georgia Historical Society, added, ” Somehow the fact that they are still there resting in peace says something about the people who have been caretakers of this city for a long time.” Beaufort resident Lynn Jaecks weighed in as well by saying, “It proves the sanctity of life that people who lived, even if they died a long time ago, are still on kind of sacred ground,” said Jaecks, according to Fox 28 Media.