Of all the cemeteries I visited during our trip to the South Western part of the USA, Goldfield probably made the most lasting impression. Goldfield was ‘born in a hurry’ in 1902 and after gold was found it became a booming mining town with over 20.000 inhabitants (1906-1910). Nowadays the number of inhabitants is less than 300 with some stone buildings (like a hotel, high school, and a courthouse) as a reminder of its rich past. And there is the Goldfield Cemetery, which is actually a number of cemeteries in one place – a large plot just outside of town. Initially, the cemetery was situated in the center but when the railroad was established the platform was right at the cemetery. The dead were exhumed during the night and relocated to the new burial ground; there the so-called ‘pioneer cemetery’ is still open to visitors. In September 1905 the Goldfield Union Cemetery Association was formed to establish a free and independent burial ground in perpetuity. Forty acres of land was donated and held sections of the following groups: Order of Red Men, Knights of Pythias, Masons, Odd Fellows, Eagles, Miner’s Union, Catholics, Protestants and general citizens. Other plots have been added since, including the Elks Rest, Masons and Potter’s Field. Most plots are still in use for burials and open to the public. I particularly liked the ‘vivid’ character of the site that combines historical and ongoing stories of a town and it’s people. Stories of heroes and desperate people, of optimism and tragedy, larger than life stories and tiny touching ones… Lives came to an end due to mining accidents, diseases like typhoid and by one’s own hand because ‘life became a burden’.
All pictures are taken by Claudia Venhorst, May 2018.