Resurrection of Another Kind

In the spirit of Dia De Los Muertos,  All Saints Day, and of course The Outdoors, here is a re-post from last April about a Bay Area cemetery park I visited with a friend, filled with famous and founding Californians. Re-enjoy!


My friend Miles did a little more research on William T. Shorey after reading about him in a previous blog of mine and learned Shorey was buried in the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. So Miles invited me to trek to the cemetery last Friday afternoon to find the Shorey grave. To our pleasant surprise, and with the help of a map provided by the cemetery office, we found that this churchyard-graveyard-park-garden was the resting place of many of the most important women and men of California history.

Built by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also planned Central Park, and protected Yosemite Valley from human impact, the space has sweeping views of the bay from most of the many meandering paths. The wide ranging aesthetic of the funerary monuments inspire both awe and curiosity. It was intriguing to observe how the posthumous fame of certain figures contrasts sharply with the simplicity of their burial marker. For example, women such as Jane K. Sather and Julia Morgan, did not even have graves of their own, but were shuffled in with the names of parents or other family members, which may have been the standard burial treatment for women of their time.

And Thomas Hill, a seminal American landscape artist, along with Henry Durant, the founder of the University of California (Berkeley) are each buried with the most economical symbols – but both my friend and I (fellow Golden Bears) tsk, tsked that the university could have done a lot more to provide Durant with better burial props! …On the other extreme however, railroad tycoon Charles Crocker’s crypt on ‘Millionaires’ Row’ delivers to visitors maximum pomp and pageantry (see pictured above).

The list of interred Californians, of all walks of life, is impressive and endless. And while I would never categorize myself as a graveyard browser per se, the Mountain View Cemetery is indeed successful at “transcending the division between man and nature”. It was a real delight to explore, my companion and I were humbled by the accomplishments of fine Californians; their significance to the state — in relation to our own lives.

Bottom line: I definitely recommend a visit to this tranquil, historic jewel of Oakland! Bring comfortable sturdy shoes and allow at least two hours for your visit to find grave sites of interest. Alternately, you can check their calendar for official tours. Car parking is free and the site is open from sunrise to sunset.

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