Mystery on Route 171

It’s common here to see old family cemeteries along the side of the roads. Most are small, some having just one or two headstones, most from the 1800s. There are several on the road I take each day to work. I do not find them morbid; instead, they speak of an era gone by and they have a kind of charm – part of the feeling that New England is America’s home town, a place you miss even if you’ve never been here. I like the family cemeteries and have often thought of photographing them.

There are cemeteries tucked into the woods, along the sides of rural roads, in front of people’s houses, and right out in the open on major highways. My favorite is the one in the corner of the Home Depot parking lot in Rochester. They are sacred – you can’t disturb them, you work around them.

For the past few weeks, on my way to the grocery store on bumpy Route 171, I have noticed what I thought was an old cemetery on the left-hand side of the road. However I’d never get a good look as I went by, and coming from the other direction I’d always miss it. Today I remembered it before I got there, and slowed down. Finally I saw it … a sign marking the spot, a cleared path into the woods, and another sign farther in. I wonder how many people just drive by? I turned around and went back to investigate. It WAS a family cemetery, and I thought of driving in but wondered if the ground might be soft and I’d get stuck. Instead, I decided to walk in at some point – maybe in the fall (see the May 24 post regarding ticks). I took pictures from the road – at least my little mystery was solved. I will investigate more closely later!

Here is another little cemetery along Route 171.  They are all very well taken care of, almost always surrounded by stone walls.

This is my favorite, on Sodom Road – set up on a little rise, it has stone steps and a beautiful iron fence.

These little cemeteries are part of the landscape of New England, and part of what makes it unique. They deserve to be noticed and remembered.

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3 responses to “Mystery on Route 171

  1. On our very first trip to New England several years ago, that was the first thing I noticed while out driving about….little cemeteries everywhere! I was amazed how many personal family cemeteries there were in people’s yards of their homes – you could NEVER do that in the NW. It was so quaint and so amazing, and often so beautiful as well. I’m not sure I would be comfortable having grandma buried in my yard, but I still found it to be a lovely way of life. Cemeteries are not scary, creepy places – they are places that have so many stories to tell. I’m so glad you are helping some of them tell their stories!

  2. Nice pix Paige.
    I too have always been intrigued by old cemeteries. Whenever I go back to PA, I visit our family plot to ‘talk’ to Dad (and now Mom). It’s amazing how much family history of the local area is collected in one place. The deer are always waundering around …it’s so tranquil. I’ve come to the conclusion that I definately want to be creamated, and my ashes thrown to the wind. No gravesite to maintain ….just memories to for those that care enough. D

  3. Ilene Fiedler

    Love the last one, with the fence and steps. Remember the one we saw in downtown Boston? Right on the street. Interesting.

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