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.

4 thoughts on “The Roslyn Cemetery is Alive with History

  1. I am sorry that Mr. Conner was so upset about your report on the Roslyn cementery. I was just up there today and really enjoyed what I saw.
    I think that you did a very good job on your report. Can’t see anything to complain about.

  2. Headstone face east because that is where the sun rises. it a religious tradition. In the bible. PLEASE, whatever you are writing is made up stories that have no TRUTH to the area. Keep posting things that aren’t real. Why RUIN Roslyn? Why Roslyn? TALK TO A LOCAL, before they call you on it. did you read the tribune about santa? Christmas eve, not downtown revitalization. They had to ask the FD to do them a favor, not traditional Roslyn, but then neither are the people in Roslyn Revitalization, nor many other groups. Please, leave my family alone in the cemetery, or get the story right. Did you find the snake charmers grave? the glowing grave or any other “special grave?” Keep looking, you might get a story correct. Do you even know what a lodge was? do you know the local families that started them and WHY? Find out…or just make it up as you go….

    1. Thank you very much for your honest feedback and we apologize if you found any content on Why Roslyn offensive. It is certainly not our intention to mislead or be inaccurate. Our intent in the article was to note that the Polish headstones break with the tradition of facing East. The original article stated that the “reason for the layout” was unclear, but as a result of your feedback, we have updated it to say “the reason for the North Facing layout of the Polish cemetery…” in order to drive out ambiguity. Though the article does posit one theory for why the Polish cemetery faces North, our research was inconclusive and we welcome any additional information you might have on the topic.
      We agree that there is much the article does not cover, such as the roles of lodges in early Roslyn, as well as particular grave sites of interest like that of the traveling snake charmer. We also recognize that we cannot provide the Roslyn Cemeteries or the City of Roslyn just coverage in just our brief blog posts – which is why we continue to encourage others to visit the area to take it all in. Links to additional resources (such as the walking tour, the RCBA, and the Cemetery Commission) are also our attempts to promote additional learning from knowledgeable sources.
      Having said this – we feel strongly that the richness of Roslyn stems from its history, its beauty, and the people that call Roslyn home. As such, we will always welcome and encourage your feedback – be it positive or negative – and we will continue to strive to be open, honest and accurate in our stories.

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