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Let's Get Out There: Take a stroll through Portland's historic cemeteries

A new book written by two Portland women aims to garner appreciation for the history and green space of the city's historic cemeteries.

PORTLAND, Ore. — In this week's Let's Get Out There, KGW headed to Lone Fir Cemetery in Southeast Portland.

Authors Teresa Bergen and Heide Dave say you don't have to go far to get lost in your surroundings. They recommend Lone Fir Cemetery as a great place to start.

"This is the second biggest collection of trees after the Hoyt Arboretum in the city," Bergen said.

The trees are plentiful and so are the headstones, each marking the bookends of a person's life and their own story.

"Most people aren't going to get a statue built," she said. "A lot of people this is their only chance to have a monument to them so it's really special."

Bergen and Davis co-wrote the book "Historic Cemeteries of Portland, Oregon." It features 25 of them throughout the city, and they acknowledge there are many more. Visiting cemeteries became a pandemic activity for the self-proclaimed "cemetery sleuths." Pretty soon, they decided to write the book.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

"Once we saw a cool cemetery and included it then we maxed out our word count so I do apologize to anybody whose favorite cemetery is not in here it's no reflection about the worth of your favorite cemetery, it's just we ran out of space," smiled Bergen. "A lot of people don't walk through cemeteries because they just think, 'ooh that's creepy, not into it, it's sad', but they're missing a lot because you have so much history you have the stories of all the people that are buried there you have public artwork...you have all kinds of fabulous monuments and then you have green space too."

Bergen said her favorite is the Rose City Cemetery because of its beautifully manicured grounds and lots of fall color. The book highlights others such as Riverview in Southwest Portland, where many Oregon politicians and other public figures rest, and Lincoln Memorial Park. It also includes historical photographs, biographies of people buried at different locations— even some eerie tales. Bergen and Davis hope those who read their book will dig a little deeper into the hidden stories.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

"In Oregon, we're full of beautiful you know we've [got] so many opportunities to do big things like hikes and raft and backpack," said Bergen. "So maybe you don't have that much time to get away, you can just go for a walk in your local cemetery. It's some green space, it's accessible, and most people have a cemetery pretty close to them."

Historical cemeteries might not be at the top of your list, but it's a great way to get out there without leaving the city.

Let's Get Out there airs once a week on KGW's 4 p.m. newscast and The Good Stuff, which airs Monday-Thursday at 7 p.m. We're including viewer photos for this series. You can text your photos to 503-226-5088 or post them on the KGW Facebook page.

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