Mount Wood Revisited

Mount Wood Revisited

This past Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, my friend Tom and I made a return trip to the Mount Wood Cemetery and Overlook in Wheeling, WV. We left Carlisle at 6:00AM and arrived at the overlook at 9:30AM. We photographed at the overlook and then the cemetery until about 2:00PM. On the return trip we visited Bellaire, Ohio, home to several old bridges that have appeared in recent movies. After Bellaire it was on to Pittsburgh to photograph the city skyline. We arrived back in Carlisle at about 10:00PM. It was a long day for sure. The weather was beautiful and we got some unusual, controversial, and perhaps once in a lifetime photographs.

Mount Wood Overlook

Here are a few of my photographs from the Mount Wood Overlook.

Mount Wood Cemetery

Unlike my first trip to the cemetery, thankfully, we were not accosted by any of the toothless locals posing as cemetery caretakers. While at the overlook however, a little 87 year old man walked up from behind and surprised us. Tom asked him if he had a gun. The old guy said no but he had some pepper spray. We just let him through..!

As I blogged before, the Mount Wood Cemetery is a very old, very neglected and very vandalized cemetery. It is truly in a sad state. Here are some of my photos from the cemetery. You can see some of the tumbled headstones and destruction of the mausoleums.

There also appears to have been a fire in the cemetery at some point. There are remains of several trees that have their tops burned off and more than one of the mausoleums look like the roof was burned.

Shriver Grays Company

Mount Wood Cemetery

Scattered throughout the cemetery are the graves of some civil war veterans. A prominent one that we came across was the grave of Sergent George P. Wilson, a member of the Shriver Grays Company “G” 27 th Virginia Infantry C.S.A. He was killed in Manassas in 1861. I discovered a very interesting article on the Shriver Grays by Paul Burig. The Shriver Grays, Company “G” 27 Virginia Infantry 

Tom and I photographed in the cemetery for almost three hours. We made it to the top of the hill and down around part of the backside. There were many more tumbled down, broken gravestones and several more neglected mausoleums. At about 2:00PM we decided that we had seen enough of the cemetery and headed off to Bellaire, Ohio. Bellaire is just across the Ohio River and about 5 miles south.

1889 Mausoleum

Leaving the cemetery we descended the hill on a walkway near the front of the property. When we got down near the front gate we came across  a mausoleum  dated 1889. It had a large split in the roof. There was a gaping hole in the gable end where several wall stones had been removed. All day we bore witness to the dilapidated state of this cemetery but we were not prepared for this mausoleum.-

The image on the right is the inside of the 1889 mausoleum, photographed from the large hole in the side. I was able to shoot a hand-held HDR sequence but this image is from a single photograph. Right or wrong I felt it too compelling to pass up. It appears that at one time there were four caskets in this mausoleum. The two top boxes have been pried open and there contents laid bare. Contained in the debris are several cans, including a Budweiser can, a Sprite can, a Styrofoam cup and some plastic food containers. There appears to be a bone laying on the casket on the right hand side. Considering the date of the mausoleum, I don’t think that it is from one of the original inhabitants. I don’t know for sure.

What do you think..?

Recently I took part in a digital image competition where the judge, critiquing one of the images of a captive animal, put forth the notion that the image bordered on exploitation. I don’t know if this is exploiting the dead or not. What I do know, for sure, is that the conditions that I have photographed here are deplorable. How do we get to the point where we are peering into a 122 year old tomb complete with shattered caskets, bones and Budweiser cans..?

I wonder what you think of this image..? All comments are welcome. How I got the photograph.

Coming soon, the rest of the trip, bridges in Bellaire, Ohio and the Pittsburgh skyline.

Albums | Mount Wood Overlook Images | Mount Wood Cemetery  Images | Mount Wood Blog

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I agree with Chip. I don’t not see your photo as exploiting the dead at all. I see it as a photo story. Mistreating the dead is a shameful act. it shows a lack of compassion and respect. your photos bring recognition to this situation. Maybe they can be used to bring awareness to the cemeteries condition.

  2. Most of us have seen photos of the catacombs and the dead buried there, and of the bones stored by monks of times past. I wonder if anyone consideres those photos exploitation. I personally don’t see your photos, not even the last one, as exploiting the dead even if you were to sell these photos. They might even have a journalistic value.

    I suspect your photos could be of great value to those who are contemplative in nature; drawing conclusions that lean toward the futility of life in general. It does make me think about some of the cemeteries I drive by in my travels that appear almost new and certainly well kept. Will they stay that way once the spaces are all filled? How long after a cemetery is filled do we begin to see the decay? I wonder.

    I enjoyed this write-up Jim, thanks.

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