The Roslyn Cemetery is Alive with History

The Roslyn Cemetery is actually 27 separate cemeteries bundled together in the wooded Roslyn hillside.  Nearly 5000 graves represent 24 different nationalities that used to live in the town (many worked in the coal mines).  For the most part, the cemeteries are separated into  fraternal organizations that represent particular ethnic groups.  Because of the diversity represented in the cemeteries, visitors will notice a lot of variation in how the graves are marked.  Some are adorned with metal crosses, while others are marked with intricately carved (albeit weathered) stone work.  The arrangement of the plots are also interesting in that most face East, but the Polish cemetery faces North.  The reason for the North facing layout of the Polish cemetary is not entirely clear, though some feel it was so the headstones would face the Church where they worshiped.
The cemetery is also a stark reminder of the hardships and tragedies experienced by those early founders of Roslyn.  Graves memorialize two of the most deadly mine explosions in Washington State, which occurred in Roslyn in 1892 and 1909.  Baby and children’s graves provide a sense of the high infant mortality rate faced in those tough times; and impacts of epidemics like 1918’s Spanish Flu are also evidenced by the high death rates in those periods.
The Roslyn Cemetary Beneficial Association (RCBA) offers a downloadable walking tour on their website.  The RCBA is a nonprofit organization that  focuses financial and community resources toward preserving the cemetery and donations are encouraged.  The Roslyn Cemetery Commission also manages restoration projects, and more information on their activities can be found here.  Additional images from the cemetery can be found on the Why Roslyn Facebook Page.

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  1. Trackback: Gayle Loveless
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