Two People are Buried Under a Runway at a US Airport, Most Passengers Have No Idea

Two people are buried underneath runway 10/28 at the Savannah Hilton Head International airport, and planes take off and land there every day.


Credit: Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport

There are grave markers for the married couple buried there. His says “at rest” while hers reads “gone home to rest.” They’ve been interred there since the 19th century.

They were farmers in the area. Catherine Dotson died in 1877 and Richard Dotson died in 1884. The family cemetery on that plot of land contained around 100 graves and included slaves.

During World War II the city built a second airport and it was taken over by the U.S. Army Air Corps. The tract of land the city acquired was at one of the highest elevation points in the county.

The new airport land contained the grave sites. All but four bodies were moved. The family objected to moving the Dotson patriarch and his wife. They also objected to moving Daniel Hueston and John Dotson, but those graves are in brush near the runway – not below the runway itself.

To this day descendants of the Dotsons are escorted to visit the two ancestors buried there “though they cannot leave flowers.” Nearly 150 years in, though, the airport says that “really only the markers were left of the graves.” Everything else has disintegrated with time.

Still, there’s much lore surrounding the graves,

“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,” writes regional airline captain Lisa Ruedy on the web site All Things Aero. … if business is slack air traffic controllers will allow pilots to taxi by to see the graves. They sometimes might switch them to a second frequency for an audio graveyard tour, she said.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Definitely no “zombie airport”. In reader surveys, SAV was named the Best Domestic Airport in the 2022 Travel+Leisure World’s Best Awards for the second year in a row and Condé Nast Traveler magazine ranked it the top U.S. airport for the third year in a row — as reported by Wikipedia.

    I’ve never been to SAV. In general, small airports are great for short lines, close and cheap parking, friendly service, and easy access among other advantages. It would be interesting to try this airprot one day..

  2. John,

    Never been to SAV? Sounds like you are a promoter from their airport authority commercial development office. This story is a quirky interesting facet of SAV that has absolutely nothing to do with Travel+Leisure World’s Best Awards or the like. “No zombie airport”, how long did it take you to come up with that one?

  3. The good news is that the two bodies buried underneath runway 10/28 at the Savannah, Georgia (SAV) airport were alive before United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Allegiant Air, JetBlue Airways, and American Airlines started charging those irritating baggage fees and had overcrowded airport lounges.

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