An introduction to graveyards in the West

Pioneer Cemeteries: Sculpture Gardens of the Old WestPioneer Cemeteries: Sculpture Gardens of the Old West by Annette Stott

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It’s rare for me to give a cemetery book such a low rating, but it’s rare for a cemetery book to contain so much dry information that even my interest wanes.

I assumed, from the subtitle, that this would be a book about the West. In this case, the west is limited to the Rocky Mountain states. Since I live west of that, I struggled with my disappointment. Also from the subtitle, I assumed this would be a book about cemeteries as “sculpture gardens.” While I hoped for an accent on the garden aspect, Stott accents the sculptors rather than their works. The horticultural details gets scant attention.

The text focuses on the business aspects of the cemetery trade. I find that I am more interested in the stories recorded in stone than in the stone carvers. I wanted to spend more time in the graveyards and less time in workshops.

I read this book in advance of a trip to the Salt Lake City, hoping to glean some background that would add richness and depth to my exploration of the Salt Lake City Cemetery and the smaller Brigham Young and Kimball Family Cemeteries. Instead, the beautiful historic cemetery, which easily rates a chapter of its own, gets short shrift. Then again, no one seems to have done justice to the graveyard with a book of its own, so perhaps that information is impossibly difficult to come by?  The smaller cemeteries don’t get mentioned at all.

All the same, the book has encouraged me to visit the mountain cemeteries of Colorado.  Apparently, that’s where the author was based, so the area gets more of her attention.

You can check out the book for yourself on Amazon: Pioneer Cemeteries: Sculpture: Gardens of the Old West

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