Portland’s Historic Lone Fir Cemetery
Friday 14 July 2017 — Category: Outings
One evening in September 2016 I was running errands when I found I had some spare time between stops. I was already in Portland’s inner Southeast, so after dinner at Ken’s Artisan Pizza I decided to pop over to the historic (established 1855) Lone Fir Cemetery only a quarter of a mile away.
Lone Fir is one of Portland’s oldest continuously-used cemeteries. It was named for the solitary tree in its northwest corner, which is still standing today (see photo to the right). Over 150 years later, it has the company of more than 700 trees representing 67 species growing throughout the site, making it Portland’s second largest arboretum.
The cemetery is situated between SE Stark & Morrison Streets and 20th & 26th Avenues. It contains more than 25,000 graves on just over than 30 acres. Unfortunately, over 10,000 graves are unidentifiable due to poor maintenance.
I arrived at 7:00, just before sunset. About 20 minutes later the sun had disappeared; then it was my turn to disappear and start my next errand. Out of the 19 photos I took, the best 12 can now be viewed in the new Portland Lone Fir Cemetery 2016 album.
In such a short amount of time I was able to photograph only a handful of the 25K+ graves. Not only are the variety of headstones and the variations of light and shadow fascinating, but the human story behind each grave is captivating as well.
I usually try to add detailed and informative captions to the photos on this Web site. For some of the pictures in this album I even outdid myself. I researched the persons mentioned on the headstones in an attempt to dig up as much information as I could about their lives.
I was disappointed to find that a number of them do not seem to be in the historical records accessible on the Web. But a number are, as you will find out in the captions.
Alas, 20 minutes was far too short a visit to such a fine and historic cemetery. It would be an interesting project to not only return to Lone Fir, but to visit all 14 historic cemeteries in the Portland metro area.
Until then, if graveyards are your thing, you won’t want to miss the details of one of my earliest photo outings in Portland, which I have shared in Dying to Photograph a Cemetery, as well as the accompanying album of 110 photos. I closed that article with these words:
After seeing all of the interesting shots I got in the graveyard, you might be dying to get into a cemetery yourself. Go for it! They are everywhere, easy to find, and you never know what photographic treasures you will discover there. And don’t forget your picnic and a beer, so you can have a banquet amongst the dead once you are done!