(Landscape Traditions) “Landscape is history made visible”

Located on 300 acres of rolling hills is one of the largest cemeteries in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Allegheny Cemetery. It was built in the mid 1800’s which becomes apparent when you see the stone structures and how they’ve weathered. The cemetery is impossible to miss, 3 blocks down the road the steeple from the church is visible and draws your attention. The main entrance is located on the top of a hill and is marked by a stone church with wrought iron gates that was built in 1887 and is now a historic landmark (alleghenycemetery.com).This building stands strong, beautiful, and aged. Automatically, I could tell this cemetery possessed a rich history.

Walking through a cemetery is like walking through the history of various people’s lives and seeing what remains of them in a single stone structure. Headstones, mausoleums, and cemeteries in general provide loved ones with a place to go reminisce and remember the past. Headstones withstand time. I saw graves from the 1800’s, the early 1900’s, and from last week. The longer the graves are there the more they become a part of the surrounding nature. Some graves have even begun to sink into the ground- from weathering and erosion the ground has grown up around the headstone, in another 100 years the grave might not be visible.  Some families, instead of mausoleums, have chosen to have a raised grass circle to gather all family graves in one area. I really liked these circles; they let visitors visit the entire family at once or just one individual if that’s what they wanted.

This cemetery is special, it’s not just a place for the dead, it’s a place for the living as well. I road my bike through the space at about 4pm, it was slightly overcast and foggy. The paths curved, forked, dipped, and some were less traveled then others. I chose to take the path less traveled; the road had pot holes galore and took me up a hill and then spiraling down. Pausing for a moment, I listened. The sounds of traffic had faded and all I could hear was the chirping of birds and the rustle of the leaves. I was overcome with a feeling of peacefulness. The dead were calm, the visitors were quiet, it was a perfect place to just sit and think. While I walked through the headstones I saw something move to my right, it was a fawn. We engaged in a 5 second staring contest until he sprinted off to graze on other trees where he wouldn’t be disturbed. Not 10 minutes later I ran into the rest of his family. This was their home- they ran amongst the graves and fed off the vegetation. While I was visiting the cemetery time seemed to stand still, it was magical. The rolling hills, the array of trees, the old and new headstones, and the sounds of nature had a great effect. This cemetery is also a park; people come here to walk, run, and bike with families and friends. It’s a comforting place and accepts anyone.

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