High country cemetery gets spruced up | VailDaily.com

High country cemetery gets spruced up

Roger Peterson
As a Memorial Day reminder of friends and relatives passed, this marble monument and hand-crafted baby's cradle go largely unnoticed by burial ground visitors at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Leadville. The cradle, probably made by a father for his daughter, was likely filled with earth, planted with flowers and laid at the gravesite in remembrance of the departed child. The Golobs were one of many Austrian families who came to 19th-Century Leadville in search of a better life. RP/Chronicle

LEADVILLE – Not unlike the town that provided the tenants for its graves, Evergreen Cemetery has seen better days, but since last week, things are looking better.For four days during the second week of May, Leadville Street Department workers sawed and hacked their way through decades of undergrowth and low-hanging limbs at the town graveyard. Visibility wasn’t good on the grounds, said Street Supervisor Paul Diedrich, and it was time to open things up. The crew cleaned the area between the Odd Fellows burying ground and the Evergreen entrance road.

“Nobody’s taken care of it for years,” Diedrich said. “It was just way too overgrown. There is so much history there, and it’s time we took pride in it.”Diedrich and his crew, Joe Hren, Ken Berger, Loren Marcella, Andy Borrego and Keith Dawson, downed dangling branches in the forest of lodgepole pines that populates the cemetery. They also cleared fallen trees and undergrowth, hauling an estimated 36 truckloads of slash to the landfill.

When the street crew arrived, they found Leadville resident John Piearson had the same idea. Working for the last couple of months raking pine needles and yanking sagebrush in the southeast corner of the graveyard, Piearson said he’s received mostly positive comments about his efforts. “You would drive by and you couldn’t even see there was a cemetery here,” he said. “In town, they tell the tourists to come by here, but it was a black eye. Hopefully, for every person I’ve made upset, I’ve made 10 people happy.”

Diedrich said much remains to be done, and encouraged other residents to take part in cleaning the cemetery. Gravesites vandalized during sprees of criminal mischief in the 1960s-70s are still visible. During those episodes vandals toppled and broke markers and damaged or destroyed fences.Pierson said he would like to organize a cemetery association, whose purpose would be to promote the preservation of Evergreen. Anyone interested in participating in such an organization should call (719) 486-0826.

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