Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Assessing the Load at Pioneer Cemetery

Last week in the paper, and during the Bike and Walk Salem process, some folks have expressed scepticism about the ability of the Pioneer Cemetery to handle more people on foot and on bike.

The conversation has raised good questions about the "carrying capacity" of the Cemetery and its grounds.

If we think people walking and biking through the cemetery would add an intolerable burden and would stress the carrying capacity of the grounds, perhaps we should comprehensively assess and revisit the impacts of cars and pets and all uses of the Cemetery and park.

Memorial Day seemed like a good time to take a moment to visit and pay respects to some of those responsible for the first round of bike paths in and around Salem.

This County statement for work on "Bicycle Path No. 4, Mehama to Stayton" from June 30th, 1899, and an attached receipt from July 1st, 1899, involves District Roadmaster John W. Irvine and County Judge Grover P. Terrell. Both are buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.

At top you can see Terrell's headstone looks like it has broke and been moved.  It is propped up against the tree.  Whether it was vandalized, mowers broke it, or it just simply fell apart at a hidden seam in the stone, the headstone's current condition is an example of the vicissitudes to which the cemetery is subject, and against which we all agree we should struggle. The monuments may look enduring, but they are fragile.  Irvine's is on the right.

(Parenthetically, perhaps it is also interesting to ask about ADA access. As a public park with rutted, graveled roadways, the Cemetery might not be in compliance with current accessibility standards and requirements. I continue to think that in the triangulating between the needs and wishes of different interests, there is not a bermuda triangle, but in fact is a win that provides funding, historical signage, and improved access and security for the Cemetery, the citizens of Salem, and interested visitors.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's a Oregon "Heritage Bulletin" on Cemetery Vandalism.

"Get people in the cemetery for the right reasons. Education is the single-most important factor in vandalism prevention. The more people know about the cemetery, the more they will care."


"Highlight Youth. A cemetery field trip can be the start of a lifelong interest in historic preservation, art, folklore, or wildlife habitat studies."