Maryhill-Columbus Cemetery

Silently overlooking the eternal waters of the Columbia River, and next door neighbors with Stonehenge, the Maryhill-Columbus Cemetery should be a stopping point on any Necropolis nomad’s itinerary.

THE PAST

Originally this modestly sized plot served as the burial grounds for the now long vanished town of Columbus, WA.

According to the sign out front, the land was donated to the Columbus community during the summer of 1893.

By 1907 however, the grounds had became part of Maryhill; Sam Hill’s grand vision of a Quaker community located in the middle of nowhere.

NOWADAYS

Despite Ol’Sam’s efforts, no Quaker community, or town of any notable size ever sprang up around these parts.

This undoubtedly has helped to keep the Maryhill-Columbus Cemetery small and pleasantly obscure.

There are many old stones here, with some dates stretching well back into the 1800s. The Stonehenge looms east of the graveyard, lending a bit of the surreal to the solemn atmosphere. 

In the southwest corner of the grounds one will discover a more unusual section of graveyard.

Trinkets and mementos of all kinds bedeck low grave mounds, and the grass is left to grow high among the markers.

The two sections certainly make an interesting contrast and work together to make the Maryhill-Columbus Cemetery a destination for any graveyard gawker. 

GETTIN’ THERE

Head to the Maryhill Stonehenge. This usually involves taking the I-84 or the WA-14.

From there continue down Stonehenge Dr. to Cemetery Rd. Follow it to the graveyard.

 
HAPPY TRAILS! 

#Optoutsideafterwork

Ashes to ashes...
Ashes to ashes…

I was up at 4AM on Black Friday.

Not for the savings bonanzas or the ol’ fashioned tramplings, nor for the buyer’s remorse or the last item on the shelf fist fights.

No, like many of us I worked, but #Optedoutside the minute I got out!

Didn’t have a lot of time, with the sun being so stingy in these winter months, so a short walk to Franklin, WA, an old coal mining ghost town fit the bill.

“New” ruins

Eh, it’s got a spooky ol’ cemetery anyway. Who needs light when you have ghosts?

We parked at the small cemetery along SE Green River Gorge Rd. and began our walk.

Someone has done a lot of work to improve the road heading up to Franklin. What has historically been a muddy grade now has a new layer of gravel on top of it.

The trails have been liberally brushed, and some sites that I hadn’t seen in a decade of visiting this place have been cleared of vegetation.

A heartfelt “Huzzah!” to the volunteers and their efforts!

We reached the graveyard after the sun had disappeared beneath the horizon. No ghosts, but plenty of ambiance.

Heading back we encountered some people who decided that dropping a road flare down the 1300′ mine shaft would be a good idea. We were just in time for the show.

The flare erupted in a magnesium flash, brilliantly contrasting the decaying twilight.

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Sweet Jeebus no!

Within seconds it was gone, screaming it’s way to the bottom. A robust slap announced it’s arrival with mine’s icy waters.

Darkness. Then inexplicably a light began to flicker from the ghostly depths. A menacing glow struggled to life.

Looking down the stygian pit, pulsating red with sulfurous smoke, it really was a vision of hell.

After the flare burnt out we ambled back to the car, both of us the better for #optingoutside…

Then promptly #optedforthriftshopping at the Goodwill where I got a couple of nice merino wool sweaters, 50%off!

Score!

Happy Trails,

Harry Biped

Catching those last rays
Catching those last rays

GETTING THERE

Head to the center of Black Diamond, WA. Turn east on Lawson Street (There is a Los Cabos and a Cenex station at the intersection) this road will change names a number of times.

Continue on this road for about 3 miles then start looking for a small graveyard on the east side of the road. This is probably the best parking available. Hike south on the road to a gated off area. This is the trailhead.

 

 

 

Ravensdale Cemetery

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Around the turn of the century Ravensdale was a thriving little coal town with a population upwards of 1,000 residents.

The trail...
The trail…

Now it is more or less a collection of rural suburbs, but some old buildings still remain, and I feel it retains a character of it’s own, though coal ceased to be king many, many years ago.

One of the worst coal mining disaters in state history occurred in Ravensdale when just after one o’ clock on 16NOV1915, an explosion at the Northwest Improvement Companies mine claimed the lives of thirty one men.

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To the grounds...
To the grounds…

Many of those men were laid to rest at Ravensdale cemetery.

While it is not unusual for a small town to have a cemetery what follows is:

In 1963 graverobbers descended upon the little cemetery, exhuming graves, smashing headstones and vandalizing the grounds. The graveyard was robbed multiple times. It’s said that headstones were scattered throughout the surrounding woodlands…

Desecrated graves...
Desecrated graves…

The cemetery was largely forgotten in the following years, records were lost and time marched on.

Today you would never guess that right in the middle of a nondescript rural suburb exists what is left of a graveyard that bears with it such a storied past.

Driving by you might guess the little trail leading to the cemetery instead meanders up to a kids fort back in the woods, or some teenage beer hangout.

The trail is very short, maybe a hundred feet or so before you come to a volunteer built kiosk describing the cemetery, it’s past, it’s occupants. Next to it is a little rock bordered path leading up to the grounds.

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Vines of dwarf periwinkle snake across concrete remnants of graves, and in certain times of the year lilies grow for those resting below, planted many years ago by those that loved them.

 

At first one might come with a morbid curiosity after hearing of the cemeteries desecration in the past, but I find it’s soon replaced by a certain melancholy, perhaps a quiet solidarity with the spirits that still dwell there.

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