The Cemetery Project - Amberlyn Nelson

No matter what time of year, no matter under what different kinds of weather conditions, there is a special beauty when walking through a cemetery under an umbrella in the rain or stepping through a foot or two of undisturbed and pristine snow blanketing the grounds. Especially where history passes with each step one takes, like turning the pages of a book. Where each new paragraph reveals the story of a life, important or not, it is part of a town character and who the inhabitants are, past, present or int he future.

Such is a place that Amberlyn visited earlier this year. A place hidden under a layer of snow, where only tall gravestone markers and the tips of gates where visible to a soft golden winter’s sunlight, while bear trees reached for the sky.

Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery, Cañon City, Fremont County, Colorado, is the second known burial ground in Cañon City and it is the oldest. The town was settled in 1859-1860 and the first known burial in what would become Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery was William M. Davis, who was buried in 1865 on the William C. Catlin homestead.

On the November 30, 1876 edition of the Cañon City Times, it was reported that W.C. Catlin had donated 10 acres south of town to be used for burial purposes.

James H. Peabody, former governor of Colorado from 1903-1905, mayor of Cañon City and president of the First National Bank is buried at Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery, including participants of several wars are interred there. Besides numerous other famous individuals buried there, there are two sections reserved for prisoners, the last of whom was buried during the 1970's. One of the more famous inmates was William Cody Kelley, who  became the first man in Colorado killed in a chamber filled with hydrocyanic-acid gas. Most of these graves at Woodpecker Hill are marked by simple metal markers, bearing only the inscription "CSP Inmate.”

There are also Chinese graves, whose grave markers bear Chinese characters, of which unfortunately many have been vandalized over the years. There are also a large number of children’s graves with ornate stone markers throughout the cemetery. 

Earlier last year on a gloomy November Saturday in 2012, John Davis finally was recognized 111 years later as a Medal of Honor recipient at the Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery. He had died December 30, 1901, and was buried at plot 91 in Greenwood’s Pauper's grave section.

In 2001, Cañon City did some restoration and replaced the gate. Throughout the year, volunteers assist in maintenance and repairs of the cemetery.

Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery
by Amberlyn Nelson

My interest and intrigue with cemeteries began at an earlier age due to my mother’s influence. As a young teen, our family took a road trip to Bodie and my fascination with cemeteries began during that adventure. 

I try to make it a point to visit cemeteries when I travel. I get to meet the permanent residents at the cemeteries as well as absorb a bit of the town’s history. The Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery images were taken in February of 2013 while visiting Red Cliff, Colorado.

The town was founded in 1879 during the Colorado Silver Boom by miners from Leadville who came over Tennessee Pass scouting for better prospects. I used an iPhone S3 and processed the images with the 'Iris Photo Suite.' It is my hope that the antiquarian effect of the digital app enhances the personality and history of Greenwood.

Velvet Morning

The Siblings at Sunrise

Victorian Remains

Of Sticks and Ice

Little Otik Rises

Golden Drifts

Glory of God

Hope and Resurrection

Rusted Vines

The White Down Comforter

Of Sleep and Skeletons 

The Fading Son

Where Wild Berries Grow 

Love Letters 

Melting in the Sun

Velvet Morning, Study 2 

Amberlyn Nelson website

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