Cemetery Junction – Eight Groovy Graveyard Pictures

The very first thing that comes to my mind when I think “cemetery” is a polka.  My favorite polka actually.  Specifically Tom Waits “Cemetery Polka“.

The second thing I think of is a night I jumped a fence in eastern France with a Moroccan archaeologist, a Spanish archaeologist and a French kid who said “Ya.  Nobody will care.  Don’t worry.  It’s just a cemetery”.

It was an American military cemetery from World War I. After spending an hour searching through the graves for all the kids from New Mexico and Colorado I sat down and reflected on the absolute ridiculous waste of that war – and of most wars.

And then the police came.  It seems as if someone did care. Spending the night in a rural police station sipping coffee is was not the worst moment of my life, that to be sure.

Today I take my kids to picnic in the Kit Carson Cemetery in our home of Taos, New Mexico.  Its the most peaceful of places and a location where one can wander and learn – and nap.

I don’t find cemeteries places of sorrow but of wonder.

~ ~ ~

January Smith Sadler

cemetery junction

January says: “This photo was taken at the Elizabethtown cemetery in New Mexico; 4.8 miles north of Eagle’s Nest on NM 38. Now a ghost town, Elizabethtown, the first incorporated city in New Mexico and founded by Commander of Fort Union William H Moore, was named after his young daughter, Elizabeth Catherine Moore. At its height of prosperity, in 1870, it had just over 7,000 residents. The most famous being the serial killer Charles Kennedy who was responsible for 14 known murders including his own son, and the famed vigilante Clay Allison.

Today, all that stands are a few old buildings and a cemetery with many graves including children under the age of 3 years old. The overgrown grass makes it difficult to see some of the graves and some without names entirely. Just being there and thinking of the past was a humbling experience and I plan on going back.”

Find more from January here.

~ ~ ~

John Colby Bartlett

cemetery junction

Colby says: “In a corner of our world, under the silent watch of Black Mesa, generations sleep, tucked and huddled in the sand. For centuries the dead have been laid in the small walled yard in front of the Spanish mission church. According to my friend, it usually takes a half a dozen tries to find a “new spot”.

A hundred or so of us living, greatly out numbered by those who are not, gathered this late morning to see our friend be married. I caught a young girl walking past generations of her ancestors to celebrate a part of life, that for those others has passed…..”

Pueblo de San Ildefonso, New Mexico, September, 2011

~ ~ ~

Steve Collins

cemetery junction

Steve says: “I love the stories that go with the stones you find in cemeteries. The cemetery in Como, Colorado is now overgrown with aspens and brambles. The days of Como as a bustling switching station town for the trains from the ore fields are long past. Como is now a sleepy little town but the cemetery is full of  great stories and questions. Who was Daisy Stark? What was the cause of her early demise at age 13? Maybe we’ll never know.”

Find more from Steve here.

~ ~ ~

John Mata

cemetery junction

John says: “A very old grave, resting with at least a few others, in the beautiful courtyard at the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, located on the Eastern end of San Diego’s Mission Valley, just along the San Diego River. This Mission was the very first Spanish mission established in California. There are 21 Spanish missions spanning the entire state of California, all established during this period, 1967 through 1823. These missions were comprised both religious and military activities. Their “mission” was to spread Christian faith among the local Native Americans. These missions were the first major Euro-efforts to colonize along the West Coast, giving the Spanish a major foothold on the new frontier.”

Find more from John here.

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Debra Schmidt

cemetery junction

Debra says: “Greenwood cemetery was established in 1880 and is located near downtown Orlando. With 82 acres of rolling hills, beautiful flowers, huge old trees, lakes and bridges and wildlife, it makes for a beautiful setting for many activities likes bicycling, jogging and just taking a nice stroll thru the winding roadways.
Every year we visit Greenwood cemetery from October till April to document and photograph a pair of nesting eagles & nesting Barred Owls. While we wait for the eagles to take turns going out hunting and taking care of the eggs or eaglets we are often visited by the cemetery coyote, along with many different species of birds, ducks and other species of wildlife.
For more interesting information about this urban wetlands cemetery just Google Greenwood cemetery, there is so much history here.”
Find more from Debra here.
~ ~ ~

Jim O’Donnell

 cemetery junction
Portobelo was once the largest and most important Spanish port in Central America. Today, the World Heritage Site is a fishing and farming village on Panama’s Caribbean coast.  There is a 1.5 meter high statue of a black Christ inside the Iglesia de San Felipe. How it got there is a matter of contention and confusion. The stuff of legends that never quite match up.  The interior walls of the church are embeded with headstones from a disappeared cemetery.
~ ~ ~

Jess Van Wickel

cemetery junction
“A Surfer’s Cemetery” 

Jess says: “This Paddle-out ceremony for Ocean Beach native Chris Wheatley’s funeral on August 23, 2009 was held off the coast of OB’s Sunset  Cliffs.  Chris’s family and friends attended on surfboards or stood on the cliffs to witness the scattering of his ashes in the ocean he so loved.Ocean Beach is an eclectic San Diego community of surfers, artists and yuppies just north of Point Loma.  My wife, Linda, has known Chris since he was a kid and worked with his mom at the Bank of America in Ocean Beach years ago.  Chris was a really well-known local surfer, as was his dad.”

Lens: Nikon ED AF Nikkor 80-200mm 1:2.8 DSunset Cliffs, Ocean Beach, CA, August 23, 2009

Find more from Jess here.

~ ~ ~

Joan Barrameda Villarante

cemetery junction

Joan says: “Rookwood Cemetery is so large that it is considered a suburb itself in western Sydney, Australia. It is the ‘biggest multicultural necropolis in the Southern Hemisphere’ with total estimated burials approaching one million.

The historic headstones in this section, the Old Wesleyan, have suffered periods of neglect and many are now unmarked and vandalised. There’s also the more modern sections which are cared for –  the resting areas for the Jews, Muslims, the Crematorium and the  Circle of Love, for stillborn babies or those who died in infancy.

Rookwood Cemetery is not only a sacred place of remembrance and peace. Rookwood also captures history and reflects Australia’s multiculturalism. ”



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37 Responses to Cemetery Junction – Eight Groovy Graveyard Pictures

  1. Jim O'Donnell February 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    Thank you Jobavi Luna, John Mata, Jess Van Wickel, January Smith Sadler, John Colby Bartlett, Debra Hansen Schmidt and Steve Collins for joining in!

    • Jim O'Donnell February 19, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

      Debra Hansen Schmidt here it is!

      • Debra Schmidt February 20, 2013 at 4:41 am #

        Thank you Jim, I dont know how I missed it when it first came out. All the pictures are great and the stories that went with them are very interesting. Great job putting this together.

  2. Taos Rag February 8, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    sure love your posts.

    • Tonya Freeman February 8, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

      Me too.

    • Jim O'Donnell February 8, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

      Thank you Ron. These compilation posts we've done every few months have been a heck of alot of fun.

    • Jim O'Donnell February 8, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

      Tonya Freeman – Thank you fellow poet and photographer!

  3. Steve Collins February 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    What a fun project, Jim! It is great to see what others see in ordinary life through the pictures they take.

    • Marlita Reddy-Hjelmfelt February 8, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

      I would love to see this project repeated as a New Mexico focused endeavor.

    • Jim O'Donnell February 8, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

      Thank YOU Steve!

    • Jim O'Donnell February 8, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

      Marlita Reddy-Hjelmfelt I totally agree Mar. GREAT idea! I'll look at March or April sometime to do that. Do you have a shot you'd like to share?

    • Jim O'Donnell March 4, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

      Marlita? Mar?

  4. John Mata February 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    This a GREAT post! All photos and write ups are both chilling and some how inspirational. I like your thought provoking quote: "I don’t find cemeteries places of sorrow but of wonder."

    • Jim O'Donnell February 8, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

      I agree – the depth of history these places hold and the stories of the lives of the people..real human beings just like us…make cemetaries fascinating. You feel at once the joy that is life but also the chill of the knowledge that we will all pass along.

  5. Vera Marie Badertscher February 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    How eerie that we're on the same wavelength this week! I posted "Visiting the Dead" at A Traveler's Library.com on Thursday with my various visits to the dead–cemeteries and other places. Love your line, "I don't find cemeteries places of sorrow but of wonder." Definitely adding a link to this post in my own.

  6. Monica Osterlund February 8, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    Beautiful pictures and stories! I find cemeteries peaceful and full of interesting information. *** I was also reminded of my uneasy relationship to missions… They were often established on top of sacred sites of other cultures in an attempt to break the spirit of these traditions.I grew up in the Christian tradition, yet I feel like I, too, got violated!

    • Jim O'Donnell February 8, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

      I think that all religions layer themselves on the land at the time and place they dominate. That was one of the strongest things I felt at Media Luna in Panama (another post from this week). They do it for different reasons and with different levels of respect and/or disrespect but it really seems the way of the world.

    • Monica Osterlund February 9, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

      Was not alerted to your comment and only now saw it. *** You're right, of course, and I just need to make peace with my Christian heritage!

    • Jim O'Donnell March 4, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

      HAHAHAHAHA! How are you liking the book?

  7. Jobavi Luna February 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    Excellent! Beautiful stories! I love Jess' post!

  8. fotoeins | henry February 8, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    I used to feel guilty about photographing in cemeteries. Eventually, I realized these were places of their own beauty, of memories attempting to live on, even after people and their friends and family are gone. What it says is “we were here: remember us, even it’s for a moment.”

  9. Cheryl Bleick February 19, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    This is definitely one of my favorites. It’s right up there with the balloons!

  10. Jim O'Donnell March 1, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    hey Tonya Freeman Karen Hoppes Taos Rag Monica Osterlund Vera Marie Badertscher Marlita Reddy-Hjelmfelt Marc d'Entremont Maria Elena Gonzalez Henriquez Maria Lemus Sandra Harris and anyone else who would has an opinion, what would you like our intrepid group of photographers to cover in March? I'm looking for suggestions for a task to set them on!

  11. Jim O'Donnell March 1, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    hey Tonya Freeman Karen Hoppes Taos Rag Monica Osterlund Vera Marie Badertscher Marlita Reddy-Hjelmfelt Marc d'Entremont Maria Elena Gonzalez Henriquez Maria Lemus Sandra Harris and anyone else who would has an opinion, what would you like our intrepid group of photographers to cover in March? I'm looking for suggestions for a task to set them on!

    • Jim O'Donnell March 1, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

      What about you Stella Allen Cheryl Bleick Talon Windwalker and Cristina Garcia Brindley ? Opinions or desires for the next subject?

    • Jess Van Wickel March 1, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

      How about simply "emotion" and let the photogs interpret same in their submission. Might get some interesting diversity.

    • Jim O'Donnell March 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      Well…actually, I REALLY like that idea. But YOU dont count young man! You're one of the photographers! You just take marching orders from the masses!!!!

    • Jim O'Donnell March 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

      I dont think FB notified any of you, did it? Stella Allen Cristina Garcia Brindley Talon Windwalker ….hmmmmmm

  12. Colleen Friesen March 2, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    This was lovely. I’m a big fan of visiting cemeteries too.
    I gravitate toward them wherever I am in the world. So many stories…
    For me, in my life thus far, the ultimate graveyard experience was experiencing day of the dead in the Patzcuaro area of Mexico. Here’s a link from this past November.

  13. Colleen Friesen March 2, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    This was lovely. I’m a big fan of visiting cemeteries too.
    I gravitate toward them wherever I am in the world. So many stories…
    For me (in my life thus far!) the ultimate graveyard experience was experiencing day of the dead in the Patzcuaro area of Mexico.
    Here’s a link from that trip this past November.

  14. Jo Ostgarden March 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    These photos remind me of what makes cemeteries so compelling…they’re lonely, aching for our lives to grace them. For years I have cruised Lincoln Memorial in SE Portland by bike or feet. Its steep roads make for a good workout and the surrounding forest is a mix of magic and creepiness. I have always wondered why I had never met any spirits on my tours of the surrounding trails and roads…until mid January this year. One day, on one of my typical cut-through walks, heading for the forest trail at the top of the cemetery, I suddenly caught sight of a crypt in the mausoleum section (on the edge of the forest)…it still bore leftover christmas decorations: a small artificial christmas tree and wreath, an oversized christmas card and bottles of soda. The crypt was etched with the surname Ephrem and held two small photos, presumably the crypt/ graves of a Roma couple. As I stood there with Nik, the springer, marveling at the effort that went into that display, I heard a baby crying, very softly…not continually, more like punctuation in a sentence. Nik suddenly went ballistic, literally bouncing off the walls (zigzagging back and forth through the open corridor). Curious, a bit nervous, but also wondering if I was just hearing a lost kitten, a mimicking bird or indeed losing my mind (OK, and also trying to stop my dog from being caught disturbing the peace on the obvious security cameras), I chased after him. When I caught up to Nik at the other end of the corridor, he had dropped into a “downward facing dog”, or dog play, pose in front of a crypt decorated with mylar balloons. I reached over and slowly moved the balloons aside and took a peek. YIKES. It was a baby’s crypt! Crying baby…baby crypt?! I bolted out of there so fast I was practically chasing my heart down the hill with Nik fast at my heels. I hadn’t been back for awhile, partly because of a protracted battle with the flu and partly because I was spooked. Yesterday, the sunshine and a desire to avoid muddy trails drew me back. As I neared that upper mausoleum area, I headed down the corridor to fact check my experience. In front of the crypt were two dozen roses and a bunch of notes from Valentine’s Day. I pushed back the roses…yep, a baby. I wasn’t imagining it. Nearby, a group of about 30 Outsider’s motorcycle club members were huddled around a couple of graves I had walked by many times before, noting the empty bottles of Jack Daniels propped up on them. Nik immediately surged toward them, looking for pets. As I pulled him back, I made “small” talk, trying not to be intrusive…I somberly asked if they had had lost another comrade. No, they told me, they come twice a year to pay tribute and toast their “beloved” deceased friends. As I continued on my walk, I heard the motorcyclists leave—the stuccato roar of their Harleys overwhelming the otherwise silent landscape. Suddenly, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of joy and reassurance, certainly not dread. I am happy to walking in “my” cemetery again. But I have to add, I sure would love to make friends with whomever overseas those security cameras….the things they must see.

  15. Sandra Harris April 13, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    VERY COOL! Love it!


  1. Travel Photo Thursday: Sightseeing Amongst the Dead | A Traveler's Library - February 8, 2013

    […] is a great collection of visits to cemeteries from various photographers on Jim O’Donnell’s site. Beautiful […]

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