A forgotten cemetery has been found beneath the grounds of a school in Tampa Bay, Florida. An investigation with ground-penetrating radar was carried out at the King High School campus after the Hillsborough County School District was informed by local historians Ray Reed and Rodney Kite-Powell of the Tampa Bay History Center of the likely presence of the site. A total of 145 graves were found by the survey, which are thought to have been part of the former Ridgewood Cemetery, a site used primarily by poor African Americans between 1942 and 1959, before being sold to developers.
Ground-penetrating radar scan of the King High School campus site. The red line marks the estimated boundary of the former Ridgewood Cemetery, the purple boxes are individual graves. Hilsborough County School District.
The site is the third cemetery uncovered by Reed and Kite-Powell's research. The fist site, on the grounds of the Water Street Tampa project, a new development featuring retail units, offices, homes, and hotels, was found in September 2018, and is believed to be the former Fort Brooke Estuary Cemetery, used in the 1930s. The second site was revealed in June this year, when the about 800 graves from what is thought to be the Zion Cemetery, possibly the first African American cemetery in Tampa.
Local historian Rodney Kite-Powell believes more forgotten cemeteries are likely to be uncovered in the Tampa Bay area. Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times.
Ground-penetrating radar is a technique that uses pulses of micro-wave radiation to look for reflective (or partially reflective) objects beneath the surface. At its simplest, this technique can be used to look for large artificial features, such as buried pipelines, but it can also be used to look for structures such as graves, which cut through multiple layers in the earth, all of which will have different reflective properties.
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