Frank had heard stories about the cemetery being wild and untamed. He asked me if he should bring a weapon. A weapon? Well maybe boots and long pants (even in this heat) because of the deer ticks. Truth be told, Mt. Moriah is in a run down, burned-out section of town (where all the best cemeteries usually are), and I agreed we should at least bring baseball bats. However, he was referring to the “family of wild pit bulls” he heard lived in the cemetery! I had my doubts.
I figured if there was a family of pit bulls, they’d be living in some shelter, e.g. the crumbling brownstone gatehouse. So we decided that should be our first stop! Upon arriving, we explored but only found sordid bedding littered with condom wrappers, and … piles of tombstones. Tombstones? Some from the late 1800s, some from 2006. Why? In looking at Mt. Moriah’s website (listed below), it appears that stones get moved and disappear. A genealogist’s nightmare. They also say if you’re planning to visit the cemetery, “It may be worth a trip, but be prepared for confusion, frustration and disappointment.” Hmmm. Now that’s enticing.
Back to the car--driving through this jungle, straddling washed-out craters in the road and avoiding being whipped in the face by tree branches was like being on one of those Disney rides or Universal Studios—you half expect a velociraptor to poke its head out of the thicket! Which is about when we saw the pit bulls…!
|My car in middle of the cemetery!|
At one point on a side road, or path, really, we dead-ended at a pile of lumber and other rubbish (Here’s my car at that point). As I backed the car out for about ten minutes to get to a different side-road so we could turn around without getting lost, it became apparent to me that Saabs are just not good off-road vehicles. Well, their website did say to be prepared for confusion and frustration.... With a sigh of relief, we found our way out of the woods into a clearing, and then back to familiar territory-- the pile of unused concrete crypts near the gatehouse. We were certainly not disappointed that the mama pit bull decided to keep a low profile that day.
Is Mt. Moriah a sad commentary on our city or a wondrous attraction for the urban explorer of abandoned places? I can’t be judgmental as to the former and am sorry that the cemetery has been allowed to devolve to this sad state. However, it allows one to contemplate the detritus of human endeavor. We erect monuments to the deceased (often ourselves) for a purpose, but attempts to preserve memories can sometimes be undermined. Vandals, time, and weather erode efforts at immortality and the corruption of the cemetery seems to affirm, rather than deny the decay down below. Seeing it in this condition, you feel you are witnessing the final disappearance of the spirits of the interred.
Mount Moriah Website