California is one of several states that make up the Wild West in the United States. It was first established as a U.S. a territory in 1848. The state that would become California was, like so much of the West, originally inhabited by Native Americans and, in the sixteenth century, colonized by Spain as part of Mexico.
After the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), the United States acquired the land that eventually became Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California. As with other Southwest states, precious metals were found in the late nineteenth century, and pioneers, miners, cowboys, and outlaws converged on “The Golden State.” California attained statehood in 1850. Of course, with an influx of residents comes a new need for graveyards. The cemeteries of the pioneer and mining towns carry on even as the towns have fallen to ruins.
Many California graveyards linger in obscurity in out-of-the-way places (Garlock-Goler, Keeler), while others are popular tourist attractions (Bodie). Regardless of their conditions, the cemeteries offer powerful and precious reminders of California’s wild history.
Graveyards of the Wild West: California invites you to learn not only about California’s past, but to see it and meet the people whose spirit of adventure led them to live and die in an idyllic and untamed territory.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Susan Tatterson is Professor of Digital Media at Central Arizona College. She began photographing America’s abandoned landscape in 2008 as part of her MFA thesis at the University of Baltimore. Her photographs have been exhibited at solo and group shows in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Arizona, as well as being featured in Baltimore Magazine, and the indie film The Curio Shop. Her website, Spirits of the Abandoned, features work from more than seventy abandoned locations across the U.S. Her work has been described by local historians as “heartbreakingly beautiful” and “simply gorgeous.” Originally from Australia, Sue moved to the United States in 2001.
Heather L. Moulton is a professor of English and literature at Central Arizona College. Her love of Wild West cemeteries blossomed when her photographer friend, Susan Tatterson, began her Abandoned series (also published by America Through Time) - most abandoned towns have nearly-forgotten graveyards perfect for photographing. Heather lives in Arizona with a menagerie of rescued fur-kids.
Publisher: America Through Time
Imprint: America Through Time
Series: America Through Time
Publication Date: 31st July 2023
HISTORY / United States / State & Local / West (AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY)