Rossland’s heritage commission is planning improvements to the city’s Columbia Cemetery, including restoration of damaged headstones and commemoration of its Chinese section.
Chair Michelle Fairbanks says those are just two of their goals for the historic burial site.
She says the city’s public works crew has done an excellent job of helping them “reclaim the perimeter” of the cemetery, which was established in 1899, abandoned in the 1960s, and officially closed in 1985. About 1,000 people are buried there.
In particular, they were able to expose the area where 17 of Rossland’s Chinese pioneers were buried, although all but one grave was subsequently exhumed and the remains sent to China or elsewhere.
“We’re working on finding out the history of those buried there, and identifying where the plots were,” Fairbanks says.
She’d like to see a sign erected recognizing them.
Fairbanks said many headstones are in disrepair, so they hired a local mason to begin cleaning them and repairing broken ones. The project was delayed due to smoke and heat this summer, but so far about 15 have been cleaned and one has been fixed.
They’re also discussing ways of marking other graves that have no headstones.
Fairbanks says they are always looking for volunteers to help with upkeep.
“It’s a cool, rustic cemetery, but we don’t want to let it get overgrown with weeds,” Fairbanks said.
They could also use help with further research. In 2016, former commission member Jackie Drysdale spearheaded a book about Rossland’s cemeteries, which is still available at the Gold Rush Bookstore. But Fairbanks says they continue to collect data on burials and always welcome information from the public to fill in gaps.
You can get in touch with them at email@example.com.
The old cemetery is most easily accessed from the back of Mountain View Cemetery off of Highway 3B. An interactive map can be found at https://tinyurl.com/s4db7sc.