● Published by Brandi Barnett
Q97 SnapshotFebruary 2015
By Billy Pilgrim
It is perhaps the most eclectic and intriguing burial ground in the state of California, and it’s nestled deep in the forest a few miles from Redding. It’s Whiskeytown Cemetery in Whiskeytown National Park. A cemetery is usually a somber, sobering place to visit. Whiskeytown Cemetery can have some of those qualities, but it also has a quirky, almost party-like vibe, with the most unique memorials you can imagine.
Originally located in the town of Whiskeytown (the original site would be at the bottom of the lake), the gravesites were moved to their present location in 1963, prior to the lake’s filling. And now interred in this beautiful forest are pioneer families, the wealthy, the indigent, babies, cowboys, captains of industry...the long gone and the recently departed. Leon Mitchell, the very first superintendent of Whiskeytown National Park, is buried here.
There is no end to the creative decorations that adorn the gravesites and honor the loved ones who have passed through this veil of tears. And it seems like almost anything is appropriate, as long as it’s not in poor taste.
A single burial plot in this most special place is $500 for a Shasta County resident, $750 for a double plot, with a $150 surcharge for an out-of-county resident.
To get to this wild spot just on the other side of Heaven, take John F. Kennedy Memorial Drive off Highway 299 about three miles and you are there.
Many thanks to Breanna Cooper, interpretative ranger from Whiskeytown National Park, for help with the research for this article. Breanna told me she has the best job in the world.