Around the turn of the century Ravensdale was a thriving little coal town with a population upwards of 1,000 residents.
Now it is more or less a collection of rural suburbs, but some old buildings still remain, and I feel it retains a character of it’s own, though coal ceased to be king many, many years ago.
One of the worst coal mining disaters in state history occurred in Ravensdale when just after one o’ clock on 16NOV1915, an explosion at the Northwest Improvement Companies mine claimed the lives of thirty one men.
Many of those men were laid to rest at Ravensdale cemetery.
While it is not unusual for a small town to have a cemetery what follows is:
In 1963 graverobbers descended upon the little cemetery, exhuming graves, smashing headstones and vandalizing the grounds. The graveyard was robbed multiple times. It’s said that headstones were scattered throughout the surrounding woodlands…
The cemetery was largely forgotten in the following years, records were lost and time marched on.
Today you would never guess that right in the middle of a nondescript rural suburb exists what is left of a graveyard that bears with it such a storied past.
Driving by you might guess the little trail leading to the cemetery instead meanders up to a kids fort back in the woods, or some teenage beer hangout.
The trail is very short, maybe a hundred feet or so before you come to a volunteer built kiosk describing the cemetery, it’s past, it’s occupants. Next to it is a little rock bordered path leading up to the grounds.
Vines of dwarf periwinkle snake across concrete remnants of graves, and in certain times of the year lilies grow for those resting below, planted many years ago by those that loved them.
At first one might come with a morbid curiosity after hearing of the cemeteries desecration in the past, but I find it’s soon replaced by a certain melancholy, perhaps a quiet solidarity with the spirits that still dwell there.