Now whenever I’m out of town, I always make it a point to visit a cemetery. To me, they are better than any mountain range, skyline or other popular tourist attraction. They are hidden treasures containing a wealth of information about communities and the people who lived there.
Chances are you have visited a cemetery at some time in your life to pay your respects to a family member or friend, and perhaps you too appreciate the stories represented among the tombstones and monuments.
This week’s cemetery is Spring Hill Cemetery Park in Charleston, WV. Established in 1869 on a small plot next to the Kanawha River, the cemetery was eventually moved to a hill overlooking Charleston when the old burial ground had run out of space.
It consists of 150 acres and is West Virginia’s largest cemetery. In 1998, the name was officially changed to Spring Hill Cemetery Park because it is a wonderful place to walk and enjoy nature’s beauty. The day I visited, walkers — some with dogs — were out in force.
Besides its historical value, my favorite characteristic about Spring Hill was its city views, especially those overlooking the gold domed Capitol. In fact, there are many areas of the park which feature viewing platforms.
According to the city of Charleston’s official website, a civl engineer named A.J. Vosburg designed the Old Circle section of Spring Hill Cemetery which incorporated beautiful geometric patterns for the walkways typical of the Victorian era. The cemetery is also a popular site for bird watching, and many schools often visit to study the trees and flowers.
It’s also a favorite gathering place for local historians for many key figures in the development of West Virginia and Charleston are buried here. Civil War figures include Gen. Appleton who was an officer of a famous black regiment, the 52nd Massachusetts. Thomas Brown was the Confederate officer who sold the beloved horse “Traveler” to Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Other notables include two governors (William MacCorkle and Emanuel Wilson) and eight congressmen (George Atkinson, Samuel Avis, Joseph Gaines, James Huling, Adam Littlepage, Samuel Miller, Charles Snyder and George Summers).
The cemetery also features an American Legion sections with flags representing the United States as well as each branch of the military service.
Spring Hill Cemetery Park is located at 1555 Farnsworth Drive, Charleston, WV 25301. Office hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Gates are open dawn to dusk 7 days a week.
San Francisco is, by far, the hilliest city I’ve ever visited. For those who’ve never been to the capital of West Virginia, it comes in a close second. And Spring Hill is a perfect place to experience those steep hills which are prevalent throughout the cemetery.
Until next time….