- When a Georgia airport expanded a runway during World War II, it paved over a family burial site.
- The family’s descendants allowed all but four of the 100 graves to be moved.
- Two graves remain at the edge of runway 10 and 28, while two more are off to the side.
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While runway 10 at Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia may not be a particularly difficult or scary landing, it does involve touching down near a pair of graves.
The international airport was built on former farmland, according to its website.
When the Savannah airport needed to expand during World War II, the land included a burial site belonging to the Dotson family, according to the airport’s website. It was estimated to have had about 100 graves, including those of slaves.
The removal of the graves was met with resistance from descendants of the Dotson family, according to The State, a newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina. Ultimately, all but four of the graves were relocated to Bonaventure Cemetery, the media outlet Wide Open Country reported in 2019.
Believing that their ancestors wouldn’t have wanted to abandon the land they worked to cultivate, the Dotson family insisted on keeping the matriarch and patriarch in their original burial spot, according to The State.
The graves of Richard and Catherine Dotson, the farmers who originally owned the land and died in 1884 and 1877, sit on the edges of runways 10 and 28. The marker on Richard’s grave says “At rest,” while Catherine’s says “Gone home to rest,” according to The State.
Two more graves of Dotson relatives – those of Daniel Hueston and John Dotson – can be found nearby in the brush near the airport’s most active runway, according to the airport’s website.
The airport website says these graves are “the only ones in the world embedded in an active, 2,849.88m runway.”
“It’s said that if you are coming in to land just after sundown, two figures will appear just along the north side of the runway,” a regional airline captain, Lisa Ruedy, wrote for the website All Things Aero, according to The State.
Family members are allowed to visit with an airport escort, according to The State, though they are not permitted to leave flowers. It is, after all, an active runway.
The airport did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
This is an update of an article originally written by Sophie-Claire Hoeller.