San Diego Historical Landmarks—#5: Calvary Cemetery Site (follow-up)

San Diego Historical Landmarks

For the initial post on the Calvary Cemetery Site.

After I finished yesterday’s post about the Calvary Cemetery Site, I drove first to Calvary Memorial Pioneer Park looking for the gravestone of Father Antonio Ubach. He was the overseer of Calvary Cemetery in 1876 when it was created.

I had found a picture of the gravestone, taken in 1970, and it was a pretty big gravestone, possibly the biggest in the cemetery.

I figured if it was in good condition in 1970, it was probably somewhere around.

I just had to find it, and I did:

Calvary Memorial Pioneer Park

As soon as I saw it, I realized that I already had a picture, but I was facing into the morning sun and the top of the picture was blown out. So I cropped it and saved just the bottom part of the gravestone which I showed in yesterday’s post:

Calvary Memorial Pioneer Park

I started wondering about Father Antonio Ubach, so I went looking for information about him. I found it also, more from Google than from the indexes in my San Diego history books. He’s connected to a lot of San Diego history and historical landmarks, so we’ll be hearing more about Father Ubach in future posts.

From Calvary Memorial Pioneer Park, I drove to Mount Hope Cemetery, hoping to find the site where several hundred gravestones were dumped in 1970 when Calvary Cemetery was declared abandoned and turned into Calvary Memorial Pioneer Park.

Mount Hope Cemetery location

Mount Hope Cemetery opens at 8:00, so I had an hour to drive around the area. Along with Mount Hope Cemetery, there is Holy Cross Cemetery, Greenwood Cemetery, and Hope of Peace Cemetery. I guess this is the central cemetery district for San Diego. Back in the late nineteenth century when these cemeteries were created, this area was a pretty good distance from downtown San Diego. Now they are simply in an “older” neighborhood.

I drove around the outskirts of Mount Hope Cemetery, looking for that “isolated area” where the gravestones were dumped. Research led me to believe that there were a group of gravestones marking the site, but I found no grouping in any isolated areas.

When the cemetery opened, I stopped in the Raymond Chandler Business Office and met Paulette Crawford, one of the most helpful people I think I’ve ever met. I told her what I was trying to find and she knew exactly what I was looking for, called a staff member for verification, marked it on a cemetery map, and I was on my way. I was excited.

The location in an area that was not visible from a car, so I parked and went walking in the general direction where the site was supposed to be. I came upon this:

Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego

There in the center of the picture—the gravestone group that I was looking for. The only problem was that they are down there and I’m way up here on a cliff. I didn’t see a way down, so I kept walking along the cliff to get closer to them, thinking that there had to be a way down there.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Trolley came by a couple of times, and you know how I am about trains.

Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego

Paulette had told me that the gravestones were visible from the San Diego Trolley, which creeps through the area at about ten miles per hour, maybe less. I don’t know why…. out of respect for the dead or because it’s a long curve through a densely populated area.

Still looking for a way down….

Eventually the cliff ended, and around the edge of the cliff was a gentle slope down to the Trolley tracks. I was pretty sure it would lead me to where I wanted to go, and it did.

Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego

Remember, the gravestones that had been dumped there, up to 400 of them, were visible from the Trolley, and the Trolley goes through there very slowly. I can see the look of horror on Trolley rider faces as they realized that many of the gravestones had markings on them, meaning that they probably belonged to graves somewhere. “Have they no respect for the dead?”

The gravestones remained visible from 1970 to 1988, at which time they were buried and the gravestone grouping was created. As I read on several of the online sites I visited, no one bothered to get the names and other identifying information from the gravestones before they were buried. Sad, but posts like mine might keep them alive (pun intended) so that several hundred years from now, maybe alien archaeologists might stumble upon them.

Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego

Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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