I’m almost embarrassed to admit I’m pretty fascinated with lichen growth on gravestones.
During my visits to study comb graves of the Cumberland Plateau, I encountered quite a few comb graves with West-East orientation. Of course, you would expect this. It is very common for bodies to be buried with their feet toward the East. The reasoning behind this is when the rapture occurs, the body will rise up facing eastward toward the coming of Christ.
Because of this orientation, the right sides face south and the left sides face north. Remember back in elementary school (Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts) when you learned that moss gross on the north sides of trees? The same is sometimes true for gravestones.
You normally don’t see a drastic difference of lichen on the north vs. south side of a gravestone. However, since the roofs of Comb Graves are slanted, the north sides receive quite a bit less sunlight throughout the year allowing lichen to, more readily, grow.
Here is one example of lichen growing on the north side of this comb grave (left) vs. almost no lichen growth on the south (right) side.
2017 was a fantastic year full of cemetery exploration.
2017 was a fantastic year full of cemetery exploration.
Completing my Submerged Cemetery Documentary
Getting featured in an Adventure Magazine for my Cemetery Research efforts
Traveling to Spain to study the cemeteries in the north of the country.
Other highlights are listed below.
Check my main page to learn about my cemetery research for 2018.
December 2017 – Cemeteries, Cameras, and Flashlights
When I was in college, I learned the art of astro-photography and darkroom film development. Being an astronomy geek, I worked at the school’s observatory helping set up the telescope and cameras. Back then, we would spend all night shooting a roll of film then spend the next morning developing the film in light-proof canisters. A lot has changed in the world of photography. Yet, the scientific principles of photography remain the same; aperture, focus (and focal length) ISO, and shutter speed is what it’s all about. Of course, the creative side is another story.
In the month of December, I’ve reawakened my love of photography. Combining photography with my love of cemeteries, I’m working to increase my understanding of creative cemetery photography. Here is a picture I took last night at Chattanooga’s Forest Hills Cemetery. Expect more photography in the coming months.
In addition to cemetery photography, I’ve devoted much of my free time in December to studying cemeteries affected by flood waters both natural and man-made. Here’s an on-location photo from a cemetery I’m researching outside of a nuclear power plant. Expect a brand new Cemetery Detective mini-documentary on this subject in the very near future.
I’d like to take a moment to wish a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my readers and fans.
Please check back often. I have a lot of cemetery adventures in store for you in 2018.
November 2017 – A Church With A Rock In It
November was such a warm and pleasant month I spent much of it in outdoor pursuits including hiking, biking, and kayaking DeSoto State Park near Mentone, Alabama.
During one of my trips there, I found Sallie Howard Chapel also known as “The Church with a Rock in It.” This chapel was built around a huge boulder jutting into the inside of the church. The boulder acts as the outside wall behind the pulpit.
It’s a fascinating church (with cemetery) and the state park is well worth a visit.
October 2017 – Magazine Articles, Newspaper Write-Ups, and Travel Abroad
October has been one of the most interesting months I’ve had in quite some time.
– Researched the Cemeteries of Northern Spain: After months of planning, I toured the country by train and bus to study the old world European cemeteries of San Sebastian, Pamplona, Figueres, Girona, and Madrid. I will be posting articles in the coming days. Please check back often.
– Featured in an Adventure Magazine: Get Out Chattanooga, our regional Adventure Magazine published a featured article on my research of The Submerged Cemetery at Mullins Cove. I spent a day with a reporter. She interviewed me as we paddled 7 miles round-trip to the submerged cemetery. The article on this particular cemetery was featured in the October Issue.
Check back soon for updates on my cemetery research trip to northern Spain.
September 2017 – A Busy September for The Cemetery Detective
Although summer is not yet over, the beginning of September has brought a respite from the heat. Warmer temperatures will, surely, return. But, for now, I’m enjoying cooler temperatures while exploring our area’s most interesting cemeteries.
At the end of August, I produced a short video dealing with my fascination of Cemetery Fences (linked below). If you enjoy my videos, please consider subscribing to my Cemetery YouTube Channel.
I have several great videos in store for you in the coming weeks including a video documentary of my upcoming Cemetery Research Trip to northern Spain. While in Spain, I will research the cemeteries of The Pyrenees, San Sebastian, and Figueres. If you live in any of those areas of Spain, please drop me a note. I always love meeting fellow cemetery enthusiasts along my journeys.
The Chain Link Fences of Rotten Bayou Cemetery
I had never been a fan of chain link fences in a cemetery….until I visited Rotten Bayou Cemetery in Diamondhead, Mississippi.
August 2017 – Cemetery Documentaries and Continued Research
Sometimes I root through my archives of cemetery pictures, video, and research documentation. After searching through hundreds of folders, I realize I’ve published only a fraction of my archives. This month, I’m pleased to announce the publication of two cemetery documentaries that have been on my mind all summer.
1) The Submerged Cemetery of Mullins Cove
This is one of the most fascinating cemetery stories I’ve ever researched. This cemetery has been affected by rising waters for more than a century. The Submerged Cemetery at Mullins Cove investigates the life histories of Henry, Zilpha, and Moses Long. It explores the topography and geology of Mullins Cove, Tennessee. And, it researches the reasons why this cemetery is underwater.
15 Minutes in Length and PACKED with information.
2) The Cemeteries of St. Thomas, Tortola, Bermuda, and Newport
Earlier this year, I was incredibly fortunate to be invited to work as delivery crew on a 62′ sailboat. We moved the sailboat from Tortola BVI to Portsmouth, RI. On this journey, I added to my list of cemeteries I’ve already visited in these areas.
This Cemetery Documentary chronicles my trip, the excitement of traveling on the open ocean, and the cemeteries I explored along the way.
July 2017 – Upcoming Cemetery Research
It’s been a busy summer thus far.
During June, I attended the Association For Gravestone Studies Annual Conference in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This was my fourth conference. It is always an uplifting experience being around such knowledgeable and passionate cemetery enthusiasts.
At this conference, I gave a presentation on my research of The Submerged Cemetery At Mullins Cove.
I can spend hours speaking about this cemetery. Its history is fascinating. If your civic group would like me to give this presentation, please visit my “Public Speaking” page for scheduling information.
July is going to be busy, also. I’m putting final touches on a new Cemetery Documentary to be released by mid-month.
Additionally, I’m preparing for a cemetery research trip to Northern Spain in the early fall. I’ll visit the major cemeteries in San Sebastian, Girona, and Madrid. I’m also planning on a tour of cemeteries in the eastern Pyrenees. If you live in that area and are interested in the local cemeteries, I would love to meet you.
I’ll leave you with a couple photographs from my trip in May to the U.S. and British Virgin Islands:
June 2017 – Two Cemetery Projects Underway
Check back often for updates.
1) Underwater Cemetery:
I have become fascinated with cemeteries impacted by water.
Rising waters in rivers, drought stricken lakes, and coastal areas all have affected cemeteries.
I am currently studying a cemetery in the middle of a lake.
This will be the subject of my next mini-documentary and I will also make a presentation on this cemetery during the Association for Gravestone Studies Annual Conference.
If you’re planning on attending the conference, please look me up and say “hi.” I’d love to meet you.
2) Cemetery Reclamation:
I’m writing this at 11:51 PM after yet another long day in one of our local cemeteries.
With a chainsaw, lop-shears, an axe, and a strong back, I’ve taken on a project of reclaiming a long-forgotten cemetery.
When I first visited, I could not walk from one end to the other due to thickets, thorns, and brier patches. Taking care to maintain the integrity of all grave markers, I have almost completed the reclamation effort. Stay tuned to this website and my YouTube channel for a complete update.
This cemetery was completely overgrown but I’m making great progress in finding all headstones by removing the vegetation. When finished, I plan to leave many shade trees. However, the undergrowth will be cut away. Tombstones will be easy to find.
A recent mini-documentary:
The Forgotten Cemetery of Polk County Tennessee
Nestled on a forested hilltop within The Cherokee National Forest lies Rock Creek Cemetery. Even its proper name is in doubt. USGS maps, local residents, and descendants of those buried here disagree on its name. As the forest closes in on Rock Creek, this cemetery risks being lost forever.
The journey is part of the adventure and this trip was no exception. Rock Creek is surrounded by the beauty of the Ocoee river valley. This abandoned grave yard contains notable figures in Polk County’s history. In addition to the town’s founding fathers, a Revolutionary War soldier is buried here.
Join me as I search for this culturally significant cemetery.
Big plans are underway this year. Check this website and my YouTube Channel for frequent updates.
I love feedback. So, please leave your comments and drop me notes when you see something here you like.