You’ve no doubt heard the old joke: “Why did they build a wall around the cemetery? Because people were dying to get in!”
It is no joke that I have been dying to get into a certain cemetery for the past few years — before
I died! One of the items on my bucket list
of photographic outings was a trip to River View Cemetery,
70 miles up the I-5
Last week I finally made that dream come true!
Why in the world would I want to take pictures in a cemetery in the first place? Well, my thought was that there would be a lot of interesting headstones
— not so much the inscriptions, but photo-worthy shapes and shadows and colors. What I saw while I was there, and what I captured in photographic images, was even beyond what I had imagined!
River View Cemetery, and the smaller adjoining Greenwood Hills Cemetery
and Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery,
are situated on a steep hillside overlooking the Willamette River.
From the eastern border along Oregon Route 43
to its western border along SW Boones Ferry Road is a distance of about 0.7 miles as the crow flies, with a rise in elevation of about 400 feet. This translates into an approximate grade of 11 percent.
For three and a half hours I wandered around the 150 to 200 acres of burial space with more than 75,000 graves. Once I was high enough, I had a great view of the 8,365-foot Mount St. Helens
56 miles to the northeast in Washington state, as well as the 11,249-foot Mount Hood,
the highest peak in Oregon, 48 miles to the east.
Out of the 234 photos I took at the cemeteries during my morning visit, a whopping 110 have been deemed worthy of being included in this album. That’s an unusually-high “keeper” rate of 47 percent. Who knows? After seeing all of the interesting shots I got in the graveyard, you might be dying to get into a cemetery yourself!