The Historic Pinehill Cemetery

The Historic Pinehill Cemetery

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Quiet Day Manor

By SUZANNE WARING

Those stopping at Pinehill Cemetery by Neihart, Mont., will find not just history, but nature’s pine perfume wafting through swaying boughs. Rippling water in nearby Belt Creek adds to the symphony of natural harmonies.

This hillside is a beautiful, peaceful, and natural place for a final rest.

The cemetery, also called Neihart Cemetery, is three miles north of Neihart, off Highway 89. The 1881 discovery of silver-lead ore in 1881 led to the development of a town. A meeting was held in 1882, and the chairman, who sat on a rock, solicited suggestions for the town’s name.

Someone suggested Farragut, but no one seconded the motion. The next suggestion was Neihart after James Neihart, one of the first prospectors in the area. That name took, and Niehart needed a cemetery. After Pinehill Cemetery was established, James L. Neihart, along with some of his neighbors, found a final resting place there.

The US Forest Service owns the cemetery property, although the cemetery held graves before the Forest Service even existed.

The graves are perched across the hillside with undergrowth and trees growing between them.

At least one hundred graves are occupied, but many of them are no longer marked. Some have a wooden board, but the printing is unreadable. The monuments that are still legible indicate people broke ground for the dead there right after the town formed.

Deteriorating picket fences surround some plots, while rusted ornamental iron borders others, with metal gates that rusted shut long ago.

Visitors leave coins on gravestones as tributes for the deceased.

Although visitors are mostly interested in the historical qualities of the cemetery, it still remains active.

Seven new graves were added in the last five years, and people have reserved spots for future use,” said Jackie Buskirk, Chair of the Neihart Cemetery Committee. Only former residents of the valley or those with family buried at Pinehill may also be buried there.

No fees are required to acquire a burial site, but people often give a donation. With that money, three new benches on cement pads were placed within the cemetery. A recent fundraising event paid for new concrete steps at the front entrance, replacing uneven rocks. Parking and a roundabout are available, and the cemetery is open all day, every day.

Driving by on the highway, travelers may react to Pinehill Cemetery with disinterest. Those who stop there, however, take away poignant memories. MSN

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