Graveyard

Graveyard
Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Emerging Stones, Emerging Souls

Norris City Cemetery, Norristown, PA


While mid-19th-century marble gravestones are my favorites, and then I love slate and sandstone carvings of the late 1700s/early 1800s, there are granite monuments that appeal to me also.  In the late 1800s and early 1900s, granite became the rock of choice in cemeteries to memorialize loved ones.  Pneumatic tools and then electric tools allowed carvers to tackle the extremely hard stone and bring forth everything from flowers to urns to statues of angels.

The ones I really like, however, are called "emerging stones." Emerging stones are large blocks of granite (usually at least four feet tall and four feet wide and 2 feet thick) where one portion of the stone has been fully carved, but the other portion remains "undressed," or in its natural state.  The impression is one of an incomplete carving, and it is a powerful symbol of how death can cause a life to be incomplete, ending too soon.

These are almost always carved from granite, and their sheer size dominates the low "wedgie-world" granite wedges of the last half of the 20th century and today.  Sometimes I wonder how they were transported from the quarry to the carver's workshop to the cemetery, especially in the late 1900s.  Trains most likely did most of the work, but how did they get these colossal pieces onto wagons to be pulled by horses or oxen to the cemetery?  I would like to find pictures documenting that, as it was a time before the motorized and mechanized crane that could easily do the job today.  If you ever come across any photographs of that, please let me know.

Happy Holidays, may the spirit of Christmas "emerge" from you and be shared with those you love. 

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Glenwood Cemetery, West Long Branch, NJ

Glenwood Cemetery, West Long Branch, NJ

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Stroudsburg Cemetery, Stroudsburg, PA

Stroudsburg Cemetery, Stroudsburg, PA

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Northwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

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