Damages: Ravensdale Cemetery

Ravensdale Cemetery

Most of us non-Pacific Northwesterners think Seattle is all about Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing, and Amazon. What we don’t realize is that at one time, the PNW was one of the biggest (some might even say the biggest) coal producer in the country.

While Newcastle and Black Diamond are two of the better known and larger communities, there are also other, smaller communities that did their part. Ravensdale is one of them.

Ravensdale also happens to be one of the sadder stories.

In November, 1915, an explosion occurred in the mine, killing 31 men and the town never really recovered from the tragedy. Residents called up for the World War I draft left and never returned. Coal was eventually phased out in favor of oil and natural gas which meant the mine, the town’s sole source of income, was eventually shut down.

Vandals began attacking the old cemetery, breaking open tombs, stealing the remains, and damaging the headstones.

Courtesy Mike McDonald*

Courtesy Mike McDonald*

When I visited several years ago, the place was littered with cigarette butts and beer bottles.  Reminded me why it’s sometimes a good thing to bring another person along when visiting some of the more remote cemeteries.


*This photo was borrowed from Mike McDonald. Check out some of his other photos of Ravensdale Cemetery here.

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Snapshots: Woodmen of the World

Woodmen of the World examples

If you’ve ever wondered about all those stone tree stumps in the cemetery, wonder no more. You are in the presence of a Woodman of the World.

Woodmen of the World was (actually, still is) a privately held insurance company located in Nebraska. Prior to 1930, the company was best known for providing its members with a variety of tree stump-styled headstones, as seen above.

The headstones typically included carvings of the tools of the trade (an axe, maul, and a wedge). Some might also include a dove to represent peace or the Latin phrase, Dum Tacet Clamat (Though Silent, He Speaks).


Dum Tacet Clamat




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Snapshots: The carriage driver

HG_Carriage Driver

BTG has cracked the 500 likes/email subscriber level! Thank you for all the like love and to celebrate, I’m pulling out one of my special photos from that fabulous place in London; Highgate.

Click the photo to see an enlarged version and then take a closer look at the carvings on the base of the headstone. Notice the horn and whip? Don’t forget to check out the first two stone posts in the foreground of the photo, either. That’s right; horseshoes.

Yup. This is the grave of one of those fancy, high-class carriage drivers for the London social classes. Pretty neat, huh? Almost makes you want to pop in a BBC special like the Bleak House series starring Gillian Anderson. By the way, the guy who plays the evil lawyer in it, carries the aura over to the new Dracula movie that’s now showing.

P.S. If BTG can hit the 750 and/or 1,000 mark (either for likes or email subscribers), I’ve got two other photos that are even more interesting than this.

Way more. :)

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Damages: Vandalized crypt

Vandalized crypt_Barcelona

This is just one of the many vandalized crypts that can be seen in Barcelona’s Cemetiri del Sud Ouest.

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Snapshots: Meet me at the corner of Jessamine and Magnolia

NOLA cemetery 2

Wonder if the Google car’s been through here yet?

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Snapshots: World War I Tank Corps

George E. Stober

George E. Stober: Sgt 319th Company Tank Corps

This seemed like a timely post considering the new tank movie, Fury, is opening this week.

The WWI trench warfare stalemates probably did more to develop the idea of tanks from drawing board to reality than anything else. In a nutshell, the tank was intended to bring the firepower of artillery and machine guns across the morass of No Man’s Land while providing more protection than a purely infantry unit could carry

However, the drawbacks could be significant. Traveling only at about walking pace and vulnerable to direct artillery hits, the interior of the tank was also heavily contaminated with carbon monoxide and other fumes from the weapons. Additionally, internal temperatures could reach 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

It wasn’t until 1917 when General Pershing finally requested that 600 heavy and 1,200 light tanks be produced in the United States. A total of eight heavy battalions (the 301st to 308th) and 21 light battalions (the 326th to 346th) were raised, but only four (the 301st, 331st, 344th and 345th) saw combat.

Check out the World War I tank footage video below.   4culture_black


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Restoration Idea: Goats in the graveyard

Before goats

Photo courtesy of Goat Browsers

A couple of weeks ago, BTG showcased a fun article about a community that decided to use goats for clearing a vegetation-submerged cemetery.

Well, it appears that others are getting keen on these 4-footed weed whackers as the go-to solution that’s both environmentally friendly and economically practical. This week, the Gloucester Historical Commission of Gloucester, Massachusetts, announced that they’re also hiring some goats. The job duties are simple. Eat through the vegetation clogging the edges of the First Parish Burial Ground, one of the oldest Puritan cemeteries in the country.

Considering the costs involved with hiring a landscaping team to bring in the specialized equipment, goats are becoming a terrific clearing option for cash-strapped preservation societies. So I decided to catch up with Al Dilley, the owner of Goat Browsers, in Glasgow, Kentucky, for a little Q&A.

After goats

Photo courtesy of Goat Browsers

Q: Why goats?

A: There are seven good reasons why.

  1. They eat 8-12 hours a day.
  2. They like steep slopes and uneven terrain, areas that are difficult for regular machinery to reach.
  3. They’re browsers and enjoy snacking on such things as poison ivy, honeysuckle, wild rose, blackberry brambles, kudzu, privet, or Chinese wisteria, for starters.
  4. They’re quiet and won’t disturb the neighbors.
  5. They don’t burn fossil fuels, and their only emissions are natural fertilizer.
  6. They’re non-toxic and pose no threat to the local water supply.
  7. They’re fun to watch.

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