Small plot of 50 graves on opposite side of highway houses some of cemeterys oldest

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - Scappooses Fairview Cemetery holds more than 2,000 graves, 50 of those graves are located on the other side of the highway on a small, seemingly hidden plot of grass. Scappoose's Fairview Cemetery, located on a knoll west of Highway 30, is home to more than 2,000 deceased, many of whom are visited regularly by family and friends, says Barbra Wray, secretary with Scappoose's Fairview Cemetery.

The cemetery also has a little-known corner of graves located east of the north-south running stretch of Highway 30 that sees fewer visitors.

The small, isolated graveyard of about 50 interments contains many of the cemetery's oldest graves. A large portion of those graves hold departed infants, Wray said, adding that many of the graves are also unmarked.

Josh Laica, president of the Fairview Cemetery board, said when the cemetery was first established, Old Portland Road was the main highway through the city. When Highway 30 was established in Scappoose, the cemetery was forced to exhume some of the bodies that laid where the highway is now, Laica said.

When the highway was later widened from two to four lanes, the cemetery was forced to move more graves to the lower part of the cemetery.

“At that point, they were some of our oldest burials,” Laica said. “One of my oldest relatives is actually buried over on that side.”

“There are several unmarked graves over there, we don't know where everyone is buried on that side of the road,” Laica added.

Laica said the area is maintained as often as possible, but when it comes to maintenance, “getting across the highway is not the easiest of tasks.”

Aside from the few gravestones, there is no signage indicating that the small plot is part of the cemetery, which Laica said can cause some problems.

“During Hood to Coast, people park and use the bathroom, not knowing there are graves behind that cement barrier,” he said.

Currently, the cement barrier that separates the graves from the highway is spotted with graffiti.

Wray said the Fairview Cemetery is operated and maintained completely by volunteers.

“We had a booth at the Sauerkraut Festival to raise money to pay for mowing because this is all volunteer and run by volunteers,” she said. “This is not an endowed cemetery; we work on donations.”

Asked wether the cemetery had considered moving the graves on the other side of the highway, Wray said there is no place to put them. “It's pretty hard to move them if you have no place to put them. There are very few plots left,” she said.

Wray added that, recently, two men volunteered their time to mow the entire Fairview Cemetery property. “Two men mowed it a couple of times,” she said. “Tim Golden and his friend mowed and saved us a lot of money. I was so happy that they volunteered. We could use more volunteers.”

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