Sunday, January 20, 2008

Coal Pile Cemetery concluded (almost)

It would all be simple enough, I just had to get a signal off of that fence. The debris pile was called the “ash pile” locally, and it is big enough that the children used to sled ride down it in the winter. I estimated the amount of ground that the pile would cover. It would have been somewhat bigger than your typical family cemetery.

The newspaper story explained that it was started as a family plot for the folks who lived on a farm slightly north of the ash pile. He said that if you crossed the road in front of the old farm house and walked into the woods you would walk right into it. I reckoned that the gate would be on the house side of the fence, and that the fence would be roughly oriented as the house was.

My plan was to trench diagonally into the pile until I got an iron signal. I have been in a couple of cemeteries in my life and one thing is certain. A person could walk a straight line through most of them without running into a stone, but diagonally is another story. I hoped to hit a stone if I missed the fence.

I got the Ace 250 ready early on a rainy/snowy morning in late March of that year. I made sure I had a thermos of hot coffee and plenty of cigarettes (I smoked then). I parked in my friend’s driveway and walked down the trail that was the Hallville switch. I had scouted this area a few times throughout my research, which made the newest twist to the cemetery quest particularly maddening.

No Trespassing signs. Yellow caution tape. Strong threats written on the signs with a name and phone number. Maybe the folks who live close to the switch told the landowner I was poking around the coal pile. Locals have walked their dogs and hunted back there for years. I sat smoking a cigarette and watched the rain drip off of the bill of my cap. Disappointed to say the least. If a person will go through the trouble to post his property like that, he will likely go through the trouble to prosecute. I went home.

I called the number and left a message a few times, but never got a call back or an answer. Possibly the owner also knew what was there and did not want anyone poking around. Could be right of way and ownership issues involved, who knows. All that I know is that time allowed me to all but forget about that cemetery. I had not thought about it for quite a while.

That is, until my friend came to work one morning a couple of weeks ago and said:

“Gary found a stone and maybe some fence while muzzleloader hunting.”. Very close by but not under the pile.

I will be taking a drive to the switch very soon.

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