Hottest. Most flavorful. Best vegetarian. Judge’s choice. At a chili cookoff, there are so many ways to be excellent. The same is true of cemeteries for me.
Favorite cemeteries are my favorites for different (and sometimes weird) reasons. I even have some least favorites. And my favorites change over time as I discover new ones.
Most scenic or picturesque
The Catlin Cemetery in Longview, WA is probably still as beautiful and picturesque as it is because it is surrounded by a locked fence and on a prohibitively steep hill that is very difficult to climb. I went all the way to the top and that was my cardio for the week. Also a contender for “hardest to get to.”
By “historic” I don’t necessarily mean “the first” or “the oldest,” but a cemetery that really captures the feel and atmosphere of pioneer times. One of my personal favorites is the Emigrant Springs Cemetery near Wasco, OR. Mostly hidden by the tall grass of the Oregon plains, the vast horizon and sweeping expanses of grain and weeds definitely make you feel you’re traveling “out in the middle of nowhere.” Just don’t look at the wind turbines.
The Greenwood Cemetery near Astoria, OR has a small columbarium which I found quite charming. It’s inside one of those cedar buildings that people put over their hot tubs, so it has curved corners and big windows and it’s bright, dry and sunny inside. The columbarium is inside a delightful little fenced garden with a lot of personality that is obviously well-tended and cared for. I’d like to visit there again.
This award probably goes to a series of cemeteries on the Oregon coast near Tillamook. I’m fascinated by zinkers and here I found a wide variety of styles, sizes and emblems on zinkers that I had never seen before. Clearly someone was selling them in the area with a great deal of zeal and initiative! One of those was the Tillamook IOOF Cemetery.
Most mysterious or atmospheric
So I don’t really find cemeteries creepy, as I’ve written, but I felt like I ought to include this category. I was able to get some atmospheric photos on a foggy, cloudy day at the Knox Butte Cemetery in Albany, OR. The photos were taken just as the fog was lifting and the effect was quite mysterious.
Just a favorite, I dunno why
The Harmony or Union Baptist Cemetery near Sheridan, OR had a very nice vibe to it and I really liked the place. Volunteers clearly care for the place and have documented its history. There’s a little picnic table out front, which I am always glad to see as it acknowledges that the space is also for the living. I sometimes see people sharing drinks or a quiet moment or a meal at a cemetery near the grave of their loved one which I find really touching.
The Belle Center Cemetery in Washougal, WA makes me really sad. It’s a large community cemetery with very few burials and it’s rather neglected. From time to time it looks like people have made efforts, but it’s a very glum place today.
Those are some favorites today. I’ll have more as I discover new places.
Stump and Lamb explores personal growth and meaning via travels to pioneer cemeteries of the West. Posts may contain affiliate links.
This post was originally published at michellerau.com.