Caspar Cemetery

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Baxt, Petey, and I went on a cemetery adventure on Tuesday. We ended up going to Caspar and Mendocino, and I got some great shots for my ongoing tour of Mendocino county cemeteries. It was an interesting sort of day, with very sullen, dull light that made getting good pictures rather challenging. There was a palpable air of expectation, as though anything could happen.

We were originally going to go straight to Mendocino, but I remembered on the way about the existence of Caspar Cemetery, which is actually my favorite cemetery in the entire world. If I am buried, that is where I want to be buried. It’s in a quiet grove of trees, and all you can hear is the ocean gently pounding in the background. To get there, you walk along a long, rambling path through the forest, which was positively spooky on Tuesday because of the heavy, overcast sort of day. It’s a calm, quiet, still sort of place. I should look into who manages it to find out what sort of things one has to do to join the Caspar Cemetery club. I mean, other than die.

This cemetery was founded in 1850, and there are a lot of older graves, with a scattering of new ones, and some interesting grave sites, like one marked by a pair of rocks for two couples, and another with a covering made from wooden planks, which I have never seen before. I found a Woodman of the World grave, which was pretty interesting, and the grave of a child whose parents apparently took the Urantia Book to heart. There was one grave covered in a games table, somewhat randomly, and a Jewish grave with a very noble looking lion and a large rhododendron.

My cemetery explorations have uncovered some interesting things, like the story behind the Woodman of the World graves you find in cemeteries now and then. It’s a fraternal organization which also runs a life insurance company; prior to the 1930s, members got tombstones in imaginative log shapes as a death benefit. It’s a pity they don’t do it anymore, because some of the headstones I have seen have been truly amazing.

Like Evergreen, Caspar has some fallen and broken tombstones, and a great many crooked ones, but it doesn’t seem as sad as Evergreen does. The graves are scattered across the turf like stars, and the cemetery is on a gentle hill, and it’s so small that you can see the whole thing from any point. Even the crooked tombstones are more like a gaptoothed smile, and the broken, fallen stones don’t look like they are crying for help. It’s a very well tended place, with a big spreading tree in the middle; the sort of place where one might have a picnic, or read a book on a sunny day.

One surprising thing about the Caspar Cemetery for me was the discovery that my friend Eli is buried there. Eli was killed by a drunk driver right around Thanksgiving in 2002; he was crossing the Noyo Bridge in a pickup driven by a friend and another car slammed into them. After hovering on life support for several days, it became apparent that he was not going to pull through, but he did become an organ, tissue, and eye donor. I remember at his memorial, the recipient of one of his organs sent a letter to be read, and it reminded me that even in death, there is life. Eli’s grave has a beautiful marker and some irises, and it was nice to be able to visit with him. He was a good man and he would have grown to be an even better one if he had gotten the chance.

3 Replies to “Caspar Cemetery”

  1. I stumbled upon your page. I was searching for any information on the Caspar Cemetery and I found your link. My husband and I are going to be out there soon for our wedding anniversary and I really would like to show him that spot. A few years ago, my friend and I were vacationing in Fort Bragg and we happened upon that cemetery. I didn’t even know it was a cemetery when we set out exploring. You are right; it is a very serene place. One of the most awesome places I’ve ever been. Thank you for displaying your photographs. It was a nice touch to my pondering.

  2. My husband and I strolled through the Caspar Cemetery with our two standard poodles today. We were looking for osprey nests as we have seen several osprey return to the neighborhood this past week. There are two nest easily visible from the driveway to the cemetery. It is a peaceful spot.

    We saw the child’s grave marker noting her birth on Urantia. Curious as to what that meant, we searched the net and found reference to the Book and to your website. I’ll inquire around and see what I can learn about the family who lost their young, perhaps, newborn child.

    The grave with the two rocks was placed by my neighbors in memory of her mother, Ima. It seems to me the cemetery reflects the uniqueness and individuality of our community. Interesting how that doesn’t change even in death.

  3. I just found this website. My 18 year old sister is buried there. She died 6/17/71. I haven’t been there for years and hoped you might have photographed her marker. My brother had a friend who went there in the recent past and upon finding the marker to be severly blackened by the elements and difficult to read. This dear man cleaned it and sent us a photo. There are such good folks in this world, huh?

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