new-almaden

Spike

The grave enclosures in Hacienda Cemetery are unusual in cemeteries today, in an era of mown lawns, gated cemeteries, and suburbs.  In the 1850s, New Almaden was as rural as it got - miles from town, no paved roads, with bears, mountain lions, wild dogs, coyote, bobcats, foxes, and even wolves.

When a body was buried in hacienda Cemetery, the fresh grave needed to be protected from these animals, and small fences of wood were a practical solution.  Over time, this small cemetery became home to several more ornate enclosures, or “cribs."  Eventually, though the threat of wild animals digging up bodies was lessened, the practice of erecting a crib to mark a grave continued until the cemetery’s abandonment in the 1920s.

Today, several cribs still survive, including one of bare heart redwood, a crude chicken-wire enclosure from the 1890s, and this elaborate spiked construction around Agustin M. Castro’s grave from 1866.