Curious Oregon: Yamhill-Carlton Pioneer Memorial Cemetery

Curious Oregon: Yamhill-Carlton Pioneer Memorial Cemetery

I found a 1973 book called Oregon for the Curious at our local Goodwill store recently. It’s by Ralph Friedman, who I’ve since learned wrote many books of Oregon travel tales and folklore. You can find more about this particular book at OregonLive.

What sold me on the book as I loitered in the Goodwill bookshelves was Friedman’s fun, florid prose. He embellishes his descriptions of landscapes and locales with, well, numerous descriptors — but also isn’t afraid to call ’em as he sees ’em, as in his mention of the homes in McMinnville, where I live: “… the houses have been greatly altered (and often not to the good).” He has little to say about our fair small town, but maybe things have changed a lot since 1973.

But! The delights of other parts of Oregon are even more delightful when viewed through Friedman’s eyes. I decided that this summer, I’d visit a few of the obscure nearby places he covers in the book, and use them as opportunities to practice my multimedia skills, which need a little dusting off as I prepare to teach a new multimedia course next year.

Today I headed out to the Yamhill-Carlton Pioneer Memorial Cemetery, about 10 miles from my house and right between the towns of — you guessed it — Yamhill and Carlton.

Here’s what Friedman says about Highway 47, the major road toward the cemetery:

The beauty of Oregon 47 is chiefly in the imagery the land and its distant vistas will evoke in the poetic. To the east ruffle the whorled fields and family farm orchards that remind a man from Abraham Lincoln’s country of the Illinois prairie. Westward, beyond pastoral scenes of sheer joy, the hirsute hills curl from the far edge of the saucered plain and arch misty green and haze blue into the foam-waves of the Coast Range. On a summer day the sun drips golden shadows on the feathered slopes  and in evening the moon is a brassy gong hung on an invisible peak or a jack-o-lantern rolled into a saddle of the cordillera. Then shards of the wind, splintered by the foothill woods, come lancing into the meadows, gathering capes of dust around them, until they stub their jagged edges in a marshy ravine and fall flat, the last ripple of breeze bending the grass under a drowsy-eyed cow. From the junction to Forest Grove at least a dozen roads venture west toward the foothills. None of them possesses staggering scenery, but all are tonic for sore nerves.

I’m fond of the drive along 47 and regard myself as somewhat poetic, so consider me evoked, Mr. Friedman!

So why the cemetery, among the options in this area? Friedman says of it:

From cemetery ridge, extraordinary view of Coast Range, which sweeps as a tidal wave across the western sky. Cemetery holds graves of men and women, and large number of children, dating back to 1860s.

Friedman was right on all counts. Check out the photos below. It was a fascinating place.

(What did I learn about photography on this little trip? I really, really need a lens hood for our sunny days, rare as they are during much of the year. I spared you the images with the flares. Also, I wouldn’t claim that any of these are artistically impressive, but it’s always fun to practice with the DSLR.)

(And I just learned that Flickr doesn’t allow set embedding anymore. Yet another blow to my relationship with that site. Ugh.)

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