Historic cemeteries have not always been treated with the respect and care they deserve. This photo, taken nineteen years after Greenwood Cemetery south of Astoria was established in 1891, shows several period features. The marble monument in the family plot is framed by raised curbing, and flanked by numerous wooded grave markers. The cemetery is bounded on the north by a fence, and a line of young Sitka spruce trees.
Mid-century, the cemetery was overgrown with blackberry vines, salal, salmonberry bushes, scotch broom and a variety of saplings, to the extent that in order to prepare for a burial, workers with machetes had to chop their way to the gravesite and clear an area large enough for the service. To clear the cemetery, on a hot summer day, it was set afire. Gone were the wooden markers, the fence and the brush. Then, after declaring the cemetery a perpetual care site, most of the curbing was either removed or buried. The photo below shows the same view a century after the vintage photo. The historic character and ambiance is but a shadow of what it was.
However today the cemetery is back again and is receiving the care that those early residents may have expected. It is probably true that many modern cemeteries now receive more care than they did mid-century. We acknowledge our colorful history and take aim on a bright and respectful future.