Grave acts: Vandals damage cemetery
Vandals “willing to risk some seriously bad karma” toppled – and in some cases, damaged – dozens of tombstones at Glenwood Springs’ historic Linwood Cemetery last week, police chief Terry Wilson said.The perpetrators let famed gunslinger Doc Holliday rest in peace, sparing his newly placed memorial stone. But they pushed over the marker for New Castle town founder Jasper Ward, and those of others figures from Glenwood’s distant past.Cindy Hines, director of the Frontier Historical Museum in Glenwood Springs, said about 30 tombstones were vandalized throughout the cemetery, sometime before Tuesday evening.”It really, really sets us back as far as the work that we’ve been doing up there,” she said. “You start feeling like you’re kind of gaining on the whole thing and something like this happens and really sets us back.”The museum has been working for several years on improvements at the cemetery, and has volunteer projects scheduled there for May 14 and 21.Just last fall, it placed a new memorial marker with corrected historical information on Holliday in the cemetery, where Holliday is believed to be buried.
While Holliday dodged a bullet in the vandalism, Ward wasn’t so lucky. Hines said his gravestone was pushed back to the edge of a hillside. She couldn’t tell what damage may have occurred to the stone. Ward was killed in a Ute uprising near Rangely in 1887.A marble stone that’s probably 4 feet tall and marks the grave of Harry Korn was broken into about three pieces, Hines said. Korn died in 1916 when he fell through ice and drowned while at college in Michigan. His mother was an attorney in Glenwood, and his father owned a stationery store. Another vandalized stone memorialized Harry Landis, son of James Landis, Glenwood’s first settler. Yet another belonged to Inez Walz, a member of the family after which a street in Glenwood is named.Hines said many of the vandalized stones were from graves adopted by volunteers who have been helping the museum to improve gravesites and keep them clean. She knows of no possible motive behind the vandalism.”I would suspect just pranksters, unfortunately not really realizing the monetary value of what they have done,” she said.”There is definitely going to be some money involved in trying to stabilize these things now,” Hines said.That’s not to mention the historical impact of the damage done, or, “if you’re into it, the whole karma” thing, Hines said.
Some of the stones were precariously positioned to begin with, but were OK if left alone, Hines said. Now, the original cement or other adhesive that kept them standing probably is chipped away, she said.She said the new Doc Holliday stone was purposely set well in an attempt to fend off would-be vandals.The museum will be seeking suggestions from a memorial stone company in Grand Junction regarding how to proceed with repairing the damage done.The cemetery is on city property. Glenwood parks superintendent Al Laurette said city crews have been able to place about 20 of the stones back into position, but the others have suffered other damage that needs attention.Repairing gravestones can be tricky. If newly cemented joints are stronger than the stones, it could make the stones more vulnerable to breaking elsewhere, Laurette said.”We should take it slow and do it right,” he said.
The cost of the damage has yet to be determined. Laurette said the city is in a self-insurance pool with other cities, and its policy has a $1,000 deductible.It’s unclear when the vandalism occurred. Wilson and Hines believe it wasn’t more than a few days before its discovery Tuesday, because otherwise someone probably would have discovered and reported it sooner.Hines said vandalism at the cemetery has been rare, and usually limited to a single stone at any one time. Wilson can’t remember the last vandalism report his department has taken regarding the cemetery.”This is just huge,” Hines said. “Someone obviously spent a lot of time up there, and it was probably several people. … Some of these headstones are big.”Wilson agreed more than one person probably was responsible. He said they left little evidence for police to go on. Authorities are hoping for tips in the case. Anyone with information can call police at 384-6500. Even anonymous tips are welcome, Wilson said.”It’s certainly something that we would like to see some information come forth on and give us the opportunity to do the right thing to the person who decided to do that,” Wilson said. “I just find the thought of someone that can willfully desecrate something of that nature to be a very difficult mindset to understand. That’s pretty out there.”Officials will be discussing whether to offer a reward for information leading to arrests in the case.Officials will be discussing whether to offer a reward for information leading to arrests in the case.
People interested in helping the Frontier Historical Museum with its work at Linwood Cemetery have two upcoming opportunities to help. On Saturday, May 14, the museum will work with Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers. Crews will help stabilize the cemetery to prevent erosion, improve the trail system and restore damaged areas. They may repair some of the gravestones that were recently vandalized. Tools, materials, and leadership will be provided, along with dinner at days end. To volunteer or for more information, call RFOV at 927-8241 or toll-free at 877-662-5220, e-mail email@example.com or visit http://www.rfov.org. On Saturday, May 21, the museum will hold its annual pre-Memorial-Day cleanup of gravesites at the cemetery. Work will start at 10 a.m., and theres no need to preregister. Volunteers should bring work gloves and possibly some small gardening tools. The cleanup day is supported by a State Historical Fund from the Colorado Historical Society.
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