Friday, January 18, 2013
The region is also host to some of the most interesting, historic, and entertaining cemeteries in the state, including, arguably, it’s most iconic: Jacksonville. I’d originally considered doing one post to cover the five cemeteries I was featuring, but immediately realized how long a post that would have been and decided to split it into separate entries.
The main reason I decided to do that was, in going to the alphabetical top of my list, Antioch, I realized that it’s story was a post’s worth in itself; hence I’ve reprinted it here in its entirety. The cemetery at Antioch is, in some ways, the least interesting cemetery of the five, but it’s history pushes it onto the list. It doesn’t have the intricate appeal of, say, Jacksonville or Laurel Cemeteries, so I’ve chosen to illustrate this piece with some of the residents of Antioch. They’re ageless. Compare these modern photoceramics with the ones from a hundred years ago.
If you want directions to the cemeteries, you’ll find them at my Flickr site.
With 5500 people, White City is one of the largest urban concentrations in Oregon remaining unincorporated. It’s also been a center for poverty, domestic violence, drug abuse, and related social problems, all because of its curious history which has left it a community in limbo for decades.
White City is a new city dating from 1941 when the Army commandeered 43,000 acres of the Medford Valley for a World War II training facility and built Camp White overnight. Besides training upwards of 100,000 soldiers, the town also housed a major hospital and, for a while, a German P.O.W. camp. Pretty much as soon as the war ended, the Army packed up and disappeared, leaving this sprawling, unincorporated town of thrown-together buildings ripe for people who couldn’t be or weren’t too choosy about aesthetics. White City was born.
The lingering effects of Camp White are not restricted to White City, though. Jackson Country remains a bulwark of patriotism to this day, not only because the residents are grateful that the Army once dispensed largess upon them—a form of modern American cargo cult—but, I suspect, because when the Army left, it left behind a certain number of personnel who thought the valley would make a good place to settle down; a thought that may equally have occurred to tens of thousands of other people passing through the camp; some of whom may have come back here to retire. There are great flocks of ex-military birds in the area.
Whatever it was that spurred the volunteers to recover this fairly sizable cemetery, it’s been working. It’s not immaculate, by any means, and no one’s watering the place, but the grasses are kept at bay and it’s dotted with oaks and laurels and rhodys, et al. It actively being used and is quite lively for a cemetery of its kind. A fair amount to read and a good excuse to while away some time.