Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery, Portland

4.9
#6 of 9 in Historic Sites in Portland
Metro in partnership with the Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery and the Lone Fir Cemetery Foundation work in concert for the common goal of preserving the history of Lone Fir and furthering the education about one of Oregon's oldest cemeteries.

History of Lone Fir

In 1854, J.B. Stephens sold his farm, located a few miles east of the small town of Portland, to Colburn Barrell. On the property was the grave of Stephens' father, Emmor, who died in 1846. Barrell agreed to maintain the grave site.

Colburn Barrell was a partner in a passenger steamship line between Portland and Oregon City. On April 8, 1854, the boiler of their steamship Gazelle exploded while moored near Oregon City. The accident killed several people, including Barrell's business partner, Crawford Dobbins, and a passenger. Barrell buried the victims near Stephens and set aside 10 acres as a cemetery. He named the cemetery Mount Crawford in honor of his friend, Crawford Dobbins.

By 1866, 20 more acres were added to the original cemetery. Burial plots sold for $10. Colburn thought the cemetery should be owned by the city of Portland and offered it to the city for $4,000. The City Council turned down the offer, citing the location was too far from town. There were no bridges crossing the Willamette River, and the mule-powered Stark Street ferry was slow. Coupled with muddy roads, a funeral procession would be a weary trip at best. The cemetery was eventually sold to Portland investors in 1866 and the name changed to Lone Fir Cemetery for the solitary tree standing on the site.

Today, Lone Fir Cemetery is a wooded, landscaped arboretum in the heart of Portland. More than 25,000 people are buried here, from the familiar (Curry, Dekum, Hawthorne, Lane, Lovejoy, Macleay) to the unknown. Decay, neglect and poor record keeping in the early years have led to an estimated 10,000 unknown graves. A visit to Lone Fir Cemetery will reveal the region's rich history.

"All nations are represented, all grades of society, all states of wealth and standing. Rich lie here and poor, employer and employee, those with virtue and those without. Death has a way of banishing snobbishness, of cultivating comradeship."

—D.A. Lund, Lone Fir: Silent City of the Dead
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Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery Reviews
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22 reviews
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4.8
TripAdvisor
  • August 13, 2017
    Lone Fir isn't a Laurel Hill or a Green-Wood. No ostentatious monuments to capitalism and industry here. It's a very DIY place that really captures over a century of people coming from the ends of the...  more »
  • March 30, 2017
    My friend was thinking of divorce, and so she showed up at my house unexpectedly and we went for a walk to discuss the problems she was experiencing, ending up here at this location. It was a good pla...  more »
  • March 7, 2017
    Not the rich people cemetery. Asa Lovejoy's grave, so the earliest pioneers are here. There is a memorial to Civil War veterans. On the first Saturday, of the month, at 10am if a walk thru the cemeter...  more »
Google
  • June 28, 2017
    A well landscaped cemetery which provides a historic view of the people who lived here in the past. Great place to go for a walk or stroll. The tree covers provides ample shade. Just be a curtious visitor and don't step on grave stones as many of them are flat.
  • February 17, 2017
    Beautiful quiet location for a walk. Very rich in Portland history seen in varied and unique headstones. Many large old trees. Wide pathways loop through the area.
  • April 9, 2017
    Quiet tree lined Historic cemetery in Portland. Good for contemplative walks
  • January 18, 2016
    It's a neighborhood refuge from city noise, usually populated with mothers and baby strollers getting their exercise. Most interesting are the tombs of early settlers for whom some of the major streets were named after. Then there are the newer monuments with the likenesses of the deceased laser etched into black granite giving a ghostly affect.Quiet areas are great for meditation and reflection. A must see if your spending any time in the Southeast part of the city.
  • January 8, 2016
    A delightful jewel box of a cemetery that encompasses local history, horticultural design and modern usage. Beautiful and tranquilly sylvan oasis of the dead for the living. Certain elements concerning the unmarked graves of itinerant Chinese workers and indigent asylum patients provide a slightly controversial aspect to the place but the city's commitment to memorializing these areas at some point in the future remains laudable.

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