Posts Tagged ‘markers


then & now…



rollover in the desert…

I dug into it enough to know: two young women, no seat belts, lost control on a curve, dead. Lesson is obvious, but often ignored/forgotten in remote areas.



In remembrance….

What some notables have on their grave markers…

old grave marker-Pine Grove Cemetery-SwittersB


Cemetery: It was the thought that counted….

If you have followed along with SwittersB, you know I like exploring Oregon’s pioneer cemeteries. The markers make all manner of suggestion to me as I stroll about. Several children passing on the same day or within days of one another (an accident, disease, or worse). Historical names to the area or region are found. Or names that suggest further research and new discoveries.

Often the pioneer cemeteries are maintained by a core volunteers who tend to the grounds, the markers and records. Keeping track of where the graves are can be difficult if the markers are moved or overgrown. Here the markers are propped up against the primary family marker. Who were these people deserving of only a set of initials? Did finances limit the attention to details? Were they outcasts or distant cousins or son and daughter-in-laws? The leaning markers captured my imagination this time. It was the thought that counted at the time to make a marker I suppose. Now they are propped up as a fading reminder. Thank you to the volunteers that maintain this cemetery in the Columbia River Gorge.

cemetery, pioneer, Oregon, Gorge, SwittersB


cemetery, Oregon, Gorge, SwittersB, pioneer


Cemetery Hill

“Here lies George Johnson, Hanged by mistake, 1882.
He was right, we was wrong, but we strung him up and now he’s gone.”

Mistakenly hung for horse thievery; buried at Boot Hill

Isn’t it odd that we care to know more about a soul when dead than when they are alive? I am a devoted explorer of pioneer cemeteries. I enjoy strolling about obscure cemeteries and seeing if I can draw out poignant images, dramas, tragedies and beauty too.



Cemeteries: What’s In a Grave or A Cemetery?

You may know my penchant for exploring ‘pioneer’ cemeteries. History, nostalgia, intrigue, drama, the visuals all draw me into older cemeteries in my region of Oregon. I realize there is a deeper reality to burials and the means/methods of putting people to rest. But, I came upon the Bridal Veil Historic Cemetery and the historical reality of this little plot struck me.

BV Cem

BVHC SB 2014

It has not had a burial since 1934. It has suffered from neglect……

“The first known burial in the cemetery occurred in 1888, and the last in 1934. In 1958 the cemetery was described as being in “total neglect”, with only four observable headstones. In 1964 the blackberries were beaten back and the first field survey was conducted. At that time, thirty-one stones were discovered, and additional unmarked graves were documented from town records and obituaries. A recent field survey (May 2000) by the Genealogical Forum of Oregon revealed forty-three tombstones, and the locations were mapped. The cemetery has been assumed by Multnomah County and a major renovation took place in October 2000.” (X)


I always admire anyone that attempts to maintain the historical integrity of a location, especially if they have no vested familial interest in the site. Obviously, some went to the effort to salvage this cemetery. Others tried to salvage the town of Bridal Veil as a historical site (an amazing, intriguing history along with Palmer Mill) but eventually the town’s remaining structures were torn down.

Common everywhere, I am sure, is little is taught in schools about local history. What a shame. So much to be learned about values, journeys, ethics, mistakes, successes, failures, life and death. 



Simple metal stakes probably mark a gravesite…whose is unknown to the casual visitor


Some graves have a hub of sorts…the satellite family members propped up now…the visitor gets the idea of what was


J.M. & C.B. Were their names to long or the spelling confusing to include on the stone? Just initials….better in some way than a metal stake driven in the ground if a marker is to exist at all


There was one lasting effort at man made beauty

“It is upon such stones that men attempt to permanently etch history so they will not exist in a vacuum; it is the final statement after a lifetime of scratching out divisions upon the ground, over ephemeral time itself, merely to give their short journeys meaning, to tell others “I was here – do not forget me, do not let my brief blast dissolve into nothingness.” Rob Bignell


Cemeteries: A Profound Dissertation on Plastic Flowers

Photography at a Cemetery: For me, the older the better. Given my locale, older is pioneer cemeteries that manage graves from the mid 1800’s and forward. Settlers, transplants and adventurers who pushed out West. 

I love the older, less cared for cemeteries because they seem to meld, in my mind, with the history, the rugged times, the harshness of it all.

So, when we go to photograph these spots I prefer views that show a progression of terrain, markers and trees that depict old, weathered, forgotten history.


Cem natural

But try as I might to take these shots of the perfect blend of old, historical cemeteries, something intrudes that conflicts as much as carnival ride plopped down inside the cemetery…gausch plastic flowers!

cem plastic 2

I mean here is a perfect example of an old, historical grave and plopped down square in the middle of the grave, right in front of the marker are pink plastic flowers. I attempted to use the fence in front to partially block the colors.

plastic flr collageI understand the practicality of bringing plastic flowers to a cemetery, so you only have to visit once a year perhaps…tsk…tsk.

Dead Flr collageI also understand the frustrations of bringing fresh cut somethings to the cemetery only to have them turn into dry floral arrangements.

Cem Dead flrs 5

Of course, you might combine the two: dried floral arrangement + a bilious blue plastic that really stands out against the natural tones.

Ok, I could go to a city cemetery and observe all the plastic flowers, green artificial turf, whirly bird windmills and mylar balloons if I want a funtastic impression of a graveside. Or……


Or, I could just stand and contemplate this mound of dirt above the remains of someone named Sophie and contemplate the why’s and how’s.

Little Angel Sophie


Photography: Just A Number & Questions………

I have remarked before about my ‘enjoyment’ of walking around older ‘pioneer’ cemeteries. So many questions arise as I study the markers of graves. The obvious questions of why’s, how’s, what’s are usually paired with the who and when on the marker.

ella by Swittersb

However, sometimes the marker is more challenging of the mind. The Who and When are not there. Below, the marker at Fredericksburg National Cemetery provides a very telling number ’11’…the number of unidentified soldiers’ remains buried beneath the marker.

Below, I found this marker for ’45’ next to a tree in a back corner of a pioneer cemetery. Again, the who and when are missing and the how, why, what remain equally missing. I find these types of markers provocative of emotions. Thank goodness most of us will not go unknown, unidentified, alone in the end. For those that do, perhaps someone will stand, looking down upon them and wonder.

45 SwittersB Photograph



Slow Down!!! Something May Die

Statistically speaking the stretch of road, where this sign sets passes through a ‘wildlife observation’ area, is quite dangerous. So, that said, I can see why the slaughter of deer, elk and people. Three crosses set along side the road way a short distance from this sign…probably in memoriam of the 3 mentioned on the lower right corner of the sign.  

Long, straight roads with slight up and downs beg pushing ahead. But there is little reaction time once one sees the animal, especially at night.

Below @ “The Past” you can search back to 2008 month by month

August 2020

Please visit MUNCY DESIGNS (click)

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