Ride Report: East Portland Cemeteries, 29 Oct 2017

Fun fact: I get a lot of “crazy” ideas for bike rides, but only do a fraction of them. And when I throw out something that’s a bit off the beaten path, a bit eccentric, I wonder if anyone is going to show up to these things. So it’s always a pleasant surprise when people do.

And that’s what happened on Sunday October 29th, with my tour of four different pioneer cemeteries on the east side of Portland. My starting point was a bit out of the way: Parkrose Sumner Transit Center. Yes, this goes against the conventional Portland bike fun wisdom of starting your ride in a central location, but where else to start an out-of-the-way ride than an out-of-the-way place? (And it’s a light rail station, so it’s not exactly “hard to get to”.) We had a total of eleven people for the ride! It didn’t hurt that it was a pleasant day, sunny and 60F/16C.

The first stop was Columbia Pioneer Cemetery, aka Parkrose Cemetery, a mere tenth of a mile from the station! Like all the cemeteries we visited, this one was started in the mid-nineteenth century by the pioneer families who settled the area, then got transferred to government supervision in the mid-twentieth century. The graveyard was just a couple acres, so we walked around checking out the place.

Stop 2 was Powell Grove Cemetery at NE Sandy Blvd and 122nd. This one acre plot has the misfortune of being in a traffic circle, so I’m sure most people zip by without even noticing it! Like all the other graveyards on the tour, actual information is scant, so I couldn’t give any grand tour with stories, I just let everyone look around.

Then came the long stretch without a graveyard stop, about 10 miles. While there are plenty of pioneer cemeteries on the east side, they are not all close together. We broke up this section with a stop at the brand new park off of NE 122nd and Fremont, Luuwit View Park and a break at Jet Black Coffee at NE 111th and Halsey. (A vegan coffee shop in Gateway? Yes!) Then a bit of “rough stuff adventuring” as there are quite a bit of unpaved/unimproved roads out this way.

Finally, as the sun grew lower in the sky, we hit Cemetery No. 3, Multnomah Park Cemetery at the corner of SE 82nd and Holgate. This was the largest graveyard of the tour at 9 acres, and the one most people knew about. It also featured a small mausoleum, the only one we saw on the ride.

And then we headed north to the final stop, Brainard at NE Glisan and 90th. Another tiny plot (one acre) and on a rise above busy Glisan, so not noticed by most. This one featured a few veterans of the Civil War. It was dark at that point, and we all went our separate ways.

I had a lot of fun on Sunday, and hopefully everyone else did as well. I might do another East Portland Cemeteries Ride at some point (next Halloween?) but may mix it up with different ones…

You can see all the photos over here on flickr.


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