Perfectly Lonely and Snowy City of Souls – Return to Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis

Hilts Bronze Angel

All winter long I’ve been anxiously awaiting the perfect day to return to Bellefontaine Cemetery under snow cover. I’d been once before, though things were much greener then, and I didn’t have my new camera, or the photography skills that I’ve gained this year.   

Hilts Bronze Angel

Opening in 1849, Bellefontaine (pronounced “bell fountain” by most St. Louisans) was designed by Almerin Hotchkiss (Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York) and consists of 314 acres of park-like beauty with mausoleums as far as the eye can see. It truly is a small city. Among other big names from the region, you’ll find the resting places of Adolphus Busch (beer giant), William ClarkSara Teasdale, and the infamous Lemp family.

 

Since it was 28 degrees and I knew once I made it there I’d be on foot for a few hours, I bundled in layers and prepared as if I was on a journey to climb Mount Everest. The always-kind and wonderful workers in the office mentioned that the roads were drivable, but they didn’t seem too confident in that statement, so I decided to walk. They encouraged me to take a map and keep the office number on hand. I guess that’s what they do when they see out-of-shape fat guys drop by for photos in the winter. I figured I’d stay close to the main entrance and photograph what I could until it got cold or I felt I was going too far into the cemetery. I didn’t know until later that I’d walked a pretty massive circle that covered most of the popular and historical monuments on the driving tour.

 

 

As I bravely started out, I couldn’t help but notice that my car was the only guest car in the lot. It appeared I was going to be very alone on this journey. Awesome! It was also very quiet, other than the crows flying around, keeping their distance, and warning others of my presence. It was creepy and cool at the same time.

 

With every hill I kept finding beautiful excuses to keep going further. I was impressed that I found a few sites by memory, such as the famous “Girl in the Glass Box”. Even as I detoured off the road and trudged through snow as I found interesting shots, I felt confident I knew where I was and what direction I’d need to head once I decided to go back. I never pulled out the map, or my iPhone, for that matter. 

The famous Luyties “Girl in the Glass Box”

I’m not entirely sure I can describe to you how pleasant and enjoyable this was for me. I mean, I obviously enjoy spending time in cemeteries a little more than the average person, but to be alone (truly alone, I never saw another guest) in the middle of such a beautifully massive city of buried souls, in the middle of winter, enjoying the peace and quiet, with the added risk of getting lost or frozen before dark, was truly an amazing experience. I suppose this risk of being found frozen Jack-Nicholson-in-“The Shining” style could be why one of the workers came by in a cemetery truck as I was on the opposite end of the cemetery an hour and a half later… just checking. I waved and smiled and continued on.

Tate Mausoleum

 

Close up of the Tate Mausoleum doors

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The Francis Grieving Woman

I have to be honest, two hours later, as it got a bit darker, there was a moment when I wasn’t sure exactly where I was or if I was going in the right direction. I wasn’t lost for long, but I made the conscious decision to stop photographing so that I could focus on looking for the main entrance. It’s at this point that I nervously picked up the pace and started to feel the burn in my hips and joints. I couldn’t wait to find the car. A few minutes later I found it off in the distance, but I couldn’t believe how far away I was on the complete opposite side of where I’d been. I truly had made a pretty big circle. When I got to my car, the same cemetery worker was standing guard at the gate, probably relieved that he wouldn’t have to go searching for me again in the dark. I’d made it back forty-five minutes before the gates close and had been walking just over two hours.

 

The massive and very popular Adolphus Busch (of Anheuser-Busch Brewery) Mausoleum

 

Through the gate of the Adolphus Busch (of Anheuser-Busch Brewery) Mausoleum

 

Close up shot of the gate of the Adolphus Busch (of Anheuser-Busch Brewery) Mausoleum

 

These decorative symbols are a part of the bottom of the gate of the Adolphus Busch (of Anheuser-Busch Brewery) Mausoleum

 

 

I sat for a while and relaxed in my car as if I’d truly conquered my own Everest. I had hundreds of photos that I was so very excited about! I couldn’t wait to get home and check them out. I took a deep breath, texted Joe to let him know I was alive, and then I drove the hour-long trip home with a wind-burned face. 

 




 

Again, the Hilts Bronze Angel

 

Before I leave, I wanted to make you aware of my Flickr page, where all of my newest and favorite photography, including this set, is being stored. Please feel free to drop by, comment, or share any of the photos.

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Thanks for your support!

Patrick

 

 

 

About Patrick Keller

Patrick Keller is an educator, blogger, and the host of the Big Séance Podcast, which is a place for paranerds to have an open discussion on all things paranormal, but specifically topics like ghosts and hauntings, paranormal research, spirit communication, psychics and mediums, and life after death. He’s the founder of the now inactive Missouri Spirit Seekers and has spent a lot of time experimenting with spirit communication tools and techniques, such as EVP. Patrick also has a passion for spending hours at a time in cemeteries and loves cemetery photography. Visit BigSeance.com! View all posts by Patrick Keller

6 responses to “Perfectly Lonely and Snowy City of Souls – Return to Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis

  • Morguie

    It is quite a beautiful place…lonely, desolate, yet lovely at the same time. I find it very much a place of comfort, oddly. Thanks for sharing it.

  • NetherRealm

    Thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful photos! I can see why you enjoyed the visit.

  • Sally Bosco

    These photos are incredibly beautiful, Patrick. You so perfectly capture the mood of the place I can even feel it in balmy Florida. Your narrative made me feel as though I was there. I posted a link to my Facebook page. Really great photography!!!

  • Patrick Keller

    Thanks, everyone! I really appreciate it! I’ve been on a high for a few days after this trip. I love the photos myself… and I admit I’ve been showing them off! 🙂

  • Patty Ballance

    I finally took the time to really look and enjoy these. I felt like I actually took the walk with you:) and didn’t have to feel the pain! Makes you realize how we don’t dwell on the death of a loved one anymore, don’t know how I feel about that.
    Thanks for the walk

    • Patrick Keller

      Yeah… you’re right about that. I’d love to bring some parts of the old world back though. No one needs to dwell on death though… especially when it causes so much pain.

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