SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – An eerie discovery at a Santa Fe construction site. “They were just digging and digging and hauling dirt out, hundreds and hundreds of loads of dirt,” said Jeffrey Lewis.
Underneath all that dirt, an estimated 30 bodies. “There’s evidence that is was a cemetery in the late 1800s associated with the Masonic lodge,” said Collen Gavin.
Back in November, crews broke ground on the La Secoya de El Castillo retirement community, near the plaza in Santa Fe. Just a few weeks ago a heavy machine operator discovered remains on the east side of the construction site.
“The area has been isolated to allow for the construction to continue,” said Gavin.
Those who work near the construction site say they aren’t surprised, “I know in doing building projects and such it’s always a thought that there might be some sort of site that had burials on it it’s kind of a given in this part of town,” said Paul Rochford.
They were confused about why the remains weren’t discovered sooner, “It’s my understanding being from Santa Fe that they often check on those things before they start digging,” Rochford says.
Jenkins Gavin, the development management firm overseeing the property says they did but the testing didn’t go deep enough. “Archaeological testing was done on-site and prior to as apart of our entitlement process and in that testing remains were not discovered,” said Gavin.
Gavin says the discovery won’t delay the project’s timeline. The developer tells KRQE News 13 they are working with the city’s archaeological review board to determine if and how the remains should be removed.