Clustered serenely on 15 acres of woods and hills are 25 separate but adjacent cemeteries that form the Roslyn Historical Cemetery. Beginning in 1887, land was donated by or was purchased from the Northern Pacific Railroad by fraternal ethnic and civic organizations for burial of their deceased members. At least 24 nationalities are represented among the nearly 5,000 graves. The cemeteries were listed on the National Historic Register in 1978.
Burial customs from those countries can be observed today. Many graves seem to be above the ground due to the placement of curbings. It was not uncommon to place a ‘footstone’ in the hope that in more affluent times a headstone could be purchased and erected. The ornate and picturesque fences around some plots were originally erected to protect the site from foraging cattle and wildlife.
The Italians and Yugoslavians especially used elaborate markers. Icons of the departed, pictures encased in ceramic and embedded in the tombstones were used quite frequently. A newer method of adding a likeness of the deceased to the stone is photo etching. There are several fine examples of this in the Memorial Garden section of the cemeteries.
In part, the uniqueness of the Roslyn Historical Cemeteries is that for most sections, the perpetual care existed only as long as the participating organizations of families were around to provide the maintenance.
Today, the Roslyn Cemetery Beneficial Association is helping fund the continued restoration and preservation activities of this historic landmark. Please help by donating to the RCBA:
Roslyn Cemetery Beneficial Association
PO Box 156
Roslyn, WA 98941