History Meets Cemetery Exploration
Some would say that cemeteries give them the creeps, while others would view them as a plethora of historic wonders. Walking slowly through any older cemetery, one may respectfully find oneself observing names, dates and messages that were inscribed to enshrine a person’s unique honor. Author Sue Silver, once a resident of Mineral County, experienced her own surprise during an extensive research when she uncovered a long-lost relative buried in the Aurora, Nevada cemetery, where 19th-century miners were interred as a place called “The Silent City on the Hill,” which she named her book. Silver had been researching unmarked graves and detailed documentation within this rural cemetery when Aurora was dedicated with a Civil War monument by the Mineral County Museum staff in 2014.
One of the oldest Aurora graves is that of distinguished Judge and Nevada State Senator W.M. Boring of Esmeralda County (part of which later became Mineral County) who pioneered the area in 1860, but died at age 43 on August 8, 1872.
But don’t let the community cemeteries pass you by either. Nevada is full of fascination within it’s many roadside cemeteries along highway 95, especially in Mineral County, which boasts of two larger city burial sites and at least six historic mining sites, along with unmarked Indian and Chinese burial locations. Within the town of Luning, one stark family-type cemetery is fenced off, whereas the Mina Cemetery, once a thriving railroad town, offers an open park setting with unusual displays and above-ground markers dating back to the late 1800’s. It is interesting to observe the many creative grave decorations used within this small city cemetery.
Traveling further north to Hawthorne, a tribute to the town’s military ammunition base proudly displays sets of bombs alongside the American flag. A Memorial plays tribute to the many men and women within Mineral County, honoring the sacrifices made on behalf of all military service. Inside this cemetery, one can see the fenced family burial sites, known as “cribbing,” and view the oldest of cement markers barely standing with weathered age. Granite remembrances stand in a mixture of above-ground and more recent flat markers, giving a family preservation of tradition within family descendants.
Further north, Walker Lake has one identified grave which is cordoned off by cribbing, with a marker of a woman who gave her life to protect another in a gun fight at the original Cliff House location in 1980, on the hillside of the highway. Virginia Mahon’s story was researched and written for the Mineral County Independent News in 2015.
Other rural cemeteries, such as Candelaria, Sodaville, Marietta, and Rawhide, can be found on various websites. Chinese cemeteries and Indian cemeteries are more obscure and without easy driving accessibility. Tourism brochures, with a map of these towns, are available at the Hawthorne USO building, area museums and Maggie’s Restaurant in Hawthorne.
— Sheri Samson