Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery, Portland
Categories: Cemeteries, Tourist Spots
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.Plan your Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery visit and explore what else you can see and do in Portland using our Portland vacation planner.
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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The place is like an arboretum, and many of the headstones are beautifully carved. Unfortunately, the city of Portland permits people to camp out in tents or live in their cars just outside the walls ... read more »
I was staying in east burnside, close to where this cemetary is near. I was near the end of my trip and was stressing a bit about work. So I went for a walk. Man, what a beautiful cemetary this is. Wi... read more »
The picture someone posted to accompany their review -- an etched image of a motorcycle rider -- is an excellent example of contemporary memorial art, but it in no way is representative of either the ... read more »
A peaceful place to walk and reflect. There's a lot of history here, just walking around, reading the headstones.
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.
This is my absolute favorite place. I love the cross section of history and culture here.
amazing, peaceful place, great for a walk, photo or quiet reflection, teaching and opening insights to our community's history and culture
Very delightful and refreshing. Very clean. Walking or jogging there gives you a new life.
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