RIP? Only with some cemetery TLC
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Caskets and human remains buried at the Linwood Cemetery are in danger of being unearthed by erosion if an immediate restoration effort is not made.
In recognition of this grave possibility, the Linwood Cemetery Committee was recently formed to resurrect the old necropolis.
“There’s erosion in front of some of the tombstones and we don’t know when we’ll have feet bones sticking up,” said Jim Drolet, chairman of the Linwood committee.
Water running across the surface of the cemetery during spring snowmelt and summer rainstorms has taken nearly two feet of topsoil from some of the more-than-a-century-old burial sites, he said.
In addition to coping with these erosion problems, the committee is looking to upgrade the cemetery’s chain link fence, do some trail work and build rest stops on the trail with benches and interpretive signs.
“We are looking at replacing the chain link fence with a nice wrought iron one,” Drolet said.
The cemetery, which has a tombstone for infamous gambler and gunslinger John “Doc” Holliday, is the third-most-visited tourist attraction in Glenwood Springs, Drolet said.
“It’s incredible the number of people who go up there,” he said.
But in a focus group, Drolet said some locals expressed embarrassment to take friends and family members up to the old cemetery because of its dilapidated condition.
To remedy the situation, Drolet drafted a plan of action for the cemetery and submitted that plan to the Parks and Recreation Board, which oversees the city’s cemeteries.
“We’ve created an overall game plan,” Drolet said. “We’re in the process of getting a historical designation for it.”
The overall improvement project will be broken into sub-projects that will be ongoing for two to three years.
The first phase will include an engineering study to see how the soil erosion problem can be fixed. The area will need to have topsoil added and a new drainage system will be incorporated to keep future erosion from happening.
“I spoke with the city engineer,” Parks and Recreation Department director Dan Rodgerson said. “There’s very little we can do until spring.”
The path of surface water runoff will be tracked during the spring runoff. Rodgerson and Drolet said this study should give the group an idea of just how large an undertaking the cemetery repairs will be. The soil restoration work could then be undertaken as soon as this summer.
“My sense is that this would be a more major project,” Drolet said.
The other projects, including new fencing, straightening headstones, upgrading the path and installing benches and interpretive signs, will be tackled during the next few years.
In addition to money already collected for repairs and improvements to the cemetery, donations and grants are being sought by the Linwood Cemetery Committee.
Once enough money is collected, the committee will look to the community for volunteers to make the repairs and improvements a reality.
“So far we’ve gotten a really positive reaction from the community,” Drolet said.
The final plan for the improvements should be completed in about a month.
“We want to make sure we have a good vision of what’s up there,” he said.
Rodgerson called the cemetery a diamond in the rough.
“We’re anxious to make some improvements,” he said. “It’s rough around the edges and has been neglected and it’s high time to make some necessary improvements.”
To become involved in the cemetery improvements, call the Frontier Historical Museum at 945-4448.
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