Since there are still more favorites to mention, the topic continues!
I think it’s perfectly fine to have many favorite cemeteries for many different (and sometimes weird) reasons. I even think it’s OK to have least favorites.
Most scenic or picturesque
The Kings Valley Cemetery near Kings Valley / Hoskins / Philomath, OR has a very good vibe and is a nice place for a summer afternoon history tour. It’s actually two cemeteries on the same site. Dedicated volunteers battle entropy repairing stones and generally keeping the place well-maintained. Many visitors comment on its beauty and historic atmosphere.
By “historic” I mean a cemetery that really captures the feel and atmosphere of pioneer times. One of my favorites in this regard is the Lincoln Gulch or Old Lincoln Cemetery closest to Lincoln, MT. The old section had sunken graves, rocks and wooden fences falling apart. It was easy to think yourself back in time to the 1800s. The newer section had more modern memorials, but clearly it took a great deal of effort to bury anything or anyone in the rocky ground.
A helpful landowner showed us the way to the Wiley Cemetery near Sweet Home, OR, which is on private property and hard to get to. He mentioned he’d found another cemetery nearby by accident while hunting. He showed me on his phone and I took a photo and compared it to the satellite view in Google Maps. We were blocked by a gate at the main road, but walked in a short distance to find the site of the Fir Grove aka Thompson Cemetery. There was no sign, and if you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t recognize this cleared area covered with weeds and dead grass as a cemetery. Most of the memorials here were moved to another cemetery. Someone had left a wooden cross with a name and dates, but I couldn’t find this person anywhere. So who knows where they are buried! In my opinion it’s only a matter of time before the logging company clears this practically invisible cemetery and plants trees. In a few years we’ll never know it was there.
The Bay City IOOF Cemetery near Idaville / Tillamook, OR kind of blew my mind. There is a style of zinker I think of as “cradle” or “flower bed” or “planter.” It looks like an elongated rectangle with a pillow, tablet or slab at one end for the headstone, with the frame of the rectangle having a hollow center, intended for use as a planter for plants, stones, flowers, and so on. Until I visited the Bay City IOOF Cemetery, I hadn’t seen many “planter” style zinkers and those were mostly damaged. At Bay City, I saw at least a dozen of these planter style zinkers, sometimes multiple planters for a family and many of them in very good shape. So the style I had thought was so rare, wasn’t really so rare after all! It made me think about my assumptions and biases and blind spots. Seems there’s always something just waiting to challenge our thinking about something!
Just a favorite, I dunno why
I can tell which cemeteries are my favorites because I’ve been postponing triaging and uploading the photos, wanting more time to savor the images and feelings of the visit. I really enjoyed visiting Bellinger Cemetery near Lebanon, OR for a few reasons. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and it’s a picturesque place with moss covered trees, colorfully groomed plots and some extra-poignant lambs. It was a little hard to get to, on a dirt track curving up into the wood and no fewer than five gates to open and close. I could easily spend an entire day there writing, thinking and meditating. Good vibes, scenic, colorful, hard to get to, an all-around winner.
The Lebanon Pioneer Cemetery in Lebanon, OR made me really sad. This medium-sized pioneer cemetery, smack in the middle of town, has been the target of vandals for some time despite clear volunteer efforts to preserve some of the area’s history. This cemetery has some of the worst and most widespread zinker damage I’ve ever seen. I hope the community can turn this around.
That’s enough for this time around. More favorites to be discovered.
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.