Tombs with a View on the Central Coast

By Gretchen Ammerman | Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Ah, October. The month that starts with the turning of the leaves, smells like pumpkin spice and ends with the high holiday for lovers of costumes and creepiness. 

Halloween actually started back with the Celts, who thought the barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead got really thin after the end of summer, so in order to scare away the spirits and keep them from entering the world of the living, they threw wild parties. 

There's no better place to feel the delicate veil between the living and the dead than a cemetery, should you be interested in such things, and the Central Coast has some good ones. From self-guided tours to a living tour of residents, this is the perfect time of year to visit a few of the historic sites.

I like to search for the oldest burial dates I can find and linger there for a while, hoping that I’m providing company for a spirit who is probably pretty bored. 

The Toledo Cemetery began burials in 1886, so there are people there who not only were alive during the Civil War but also at least one former military veteran from buried there too.

The earliest burials were Julia A. Miller, who died in 1886, and Ida Carrie Fish (wife of Tom P. Fish) who died in 1889 and was buried with her third child. Julia Miller’s stone was broken, and it was a mystery whom it belonged to until an old obituary was found. As a result this stone is a bit newer than some of the others from around that time. Not so of Ida Fish; her husband was so brokenhearted by the death of his wife and baby that he placed a huge stone for them and built an iron fence which is still in place today. He is buried beside them. 

The cemetery property, located at 2150 Arcadia Dr., is on seven acres, so you can wander there for a while, sometimes with local deer for company.

When I first visited the Taft Pioneer Cemetery,  I was oddly pleased to see headstones that had the word “Bones” emblazoned upon them. I came to learn that the Bones family were early settlers in the area and the patriarch donated the property for the cemetery upon his death.

Though this site has a beautiful view of the ocean, once a year it’s a great idea to go there after dark during the Tour to Die For, when some of the cemetery’s residents stand up and tell the impressive and fascinating tales of their rugged life right beside their graves. Actors channel the spirits of the interred or inferred using historical knowledge collected about them.

Courtesy photo

The tours offered are on Friday, October 4, through Sunday, October 6, and will include stories like that of Sissie Johnson, a Native American woman born in 1855 to one of the southern Oregon tribes forced to relocate north. Though technically not a resident of the cemetery, she was an important part of the history of the area and helped many of the early settlers to survive when they first arrived. Others of the seven historical stories reenacted include the people who started one of the Central Coast's first post offices and a man who corresponded with President Harry Truman.

The tours leave hourly from the Lincoln City Cultural Center starting at 5:30 p.m. Hot cocoa and cookies are served before guests get onto the tour bus that goes to the cemetery. The tours are wheelchair accessible.

Whether you are a history buff or just a fan of the theatrical, these tours are to die for.

What are some of your favorite things to do on the Central Coast in October? Share stories of this weird and wonderful season with me in the comments section. For other things to do on the Central Coast, check out our Daytime Events calendar. For evening entertainment our Nightlife page steers you to the top happenings on the Central Coast.

About the Author Gretchen Ammerman
Gretchen Ammerman received an Environmental Science degree from Humboldt State University and was soon running a state environmental agency in Hawaii. She gave it up for the glamorous life of the freelance writer. This led to steady employment as a newspaper editor in Lincoln City, OR, where she knew she was doing well when the paper was threatened with a lawsuit within a week. Though the work was rewarding, she returned to freelance writing to have more freedom to explore the beautiful state of Oregon with her adopted dog, Scout.