Mount Albion Cemetery, 45 minutes west of Rochester (google map), is similar to Rochester's Mt. Hope cemetery in layout, history, and character. Both are prototypical 19th century rural cemeteries serving triplicate roles as cemetery, park, and botanical garden. Both were originally built on hilly, glacier-shaped terrain, and were later expanded to surrounding fields when burial plots became scarce. Both are highly regarded examples of the picturesque architectural movement. However, Mount Albion distinguishes itself from its more cosmopolitan neighbor cemetery in a number of ways.
While it's hard to believe while exploring the place, Mt. Albion is significantly smaller than Mt. Hope, with about 18,000 "tenants" (compared to Mt. Hope's 300,000) residing on 77 acres (Mt. Hope: 196 acres). This more manageable size may account for why Mt. Albion appears to be more nicely maintained than Mt. Hope: there were fewer neglected gravestones or crumbling monuments; lawns and grasses cut just well enough to preserve the aesthetic balance between architecture and nature.
The majority of the Mt. Albion cemetery sits on a hill (well, more technically a "drumlin"), with snaking roads winding through rising, terraced terrain upon which gravestones sit, interspersed by stately trees and monuments. Sitting below the hills are well-manicured fields with a still-growing number of more recent graves. In times past, families would often picnic in the open fields of the cemetery and then enjoy the trees, flowers, and landscape of the hillier areas. At the top of the hill stands the most striking structure in the cemetery.
The 135 year old Soldiers and Sailors Monument sits at the highest point in the cemetery, a 68 foot tall tower dedicated "in memory of the men who fell in defense of the union." The tower, made - like much in the cemetery - from Medina-quarried sandstone, is intubated by a spiral staircase which will take adventurous souls to an observation deck, from whence they can see the shores of Lake Ontario nine miles away, and a few miles of water beyond that.
Reaching nearly as high as the tower are many trees, ranging in variety from the common (Maple, Ash, etc), to the uncommon (a Butternut tree, Yucca plants). Many are simply towering in size...
...while others are ethereal and creepy...
... and yet some others are just surprising...
Often, they blend in marvelously with the gravestones and landscape..
But sometimes, gravestone and tree do battle. In the case of this nearly two hundred year old gravestone, time was on the tree's side. Over decades, its roots constricted around the gravestone and broke off the bottom corner.
In the fields also are numerous grave sections dedicated to men and women of the armed services. An antique canon sits in the area dedicated to Civil War veterans.
While you won't find in Mt. Albion the sheer star power of Mt. Hope - there are no Frederick Douglass's or Susan B. Anthony's here - there are some recognizable names. One small grave from the famous Wadsworth family can be found on the outskirts of the cemetery. In addition, many graves and monuments, and a fountain have been added to to the cemetery which are dedicated to the "Ingersoll" family. While I have not yet determined the story behind this family, it may be related to the Ingersoll Rand company, sellers of industrial equipment, or Robert Ingersoll, the famous 19th century freethinker.
The cemetery is open every day from 6:00 AM until 8:00 PM.
It's sad how many important yet underappreciated educational resources sit lonely in our backyard. Practically every small town has a historical society and museum. Many are unique, offering collections and perspectives not present in more prominent institutions: Cuylerville has a museum dedicated to antique tractors; Waterloo has a museum chronicling the history of Memorial Day; Bloomfield has a museum of vintage construction equipment; Hammondsport has a museum named after aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss; Elmira's Soaring Museum focuses on engineless flight; Le Roy has a museum dedicated to Jell-O. Many of these institutions are owned and run by private citizens, an outlet to express and share hobbies and passions. Many are so overlooked that they lack official visiting hours and open only by appointment. Admission is seldom more than a few dollars.
My plan for the first few weeks of summer is to appreciate these places first hand, and chronicle my adventures with this blog. I've identified about 75 locations in Western New York that I believe would be intellectually enriching to visit, and I aim to visit them all over the next few weeks. Many of the places are museums in small towns as listed above, but I mixed in a variety of other sites as well, ranging from state parks (Taughannock Falls has the tallest waterfall east of the rockies), to salt mines (the American Rock Salt site, near Geneseo, is the largest salt mine in America, with a shaft reaching half a mile below the earth. I've recently sent a request for a guided tour of the mine, including a trip to the bottom of the shaft!).
Here are some tenets for this adventure:
Day trips - hotels rarely (if ever) needed
lean, muscular travel - high on protein, low on sugars
low prep time
avoid typical highways in favor of more interesting roads
speak and get to know locals when possible
drive with windows down and moonroof open.
I've made a custom Google Map with most of the target locations, which can be found here.
In addition, below I've sorted the sites by region in order to identify sites which will be visited same-day. The list is not yet complete, but offers a general picture of the itinerary. To any like-minded individuals who would be interested in joining me on any part of this adventure, contact me. It would be great to have travel companions, especially on some of the longer day trips. Simply figure out what you're interested in from the list below, and let me know!
This documentary helped me better understand what AIDS is, where it came from, and where it's going to take us. Being in my early twenties now, my first education on AIDS came in the early 90's, from a school curriculum designed more to prevent me from contracting the disease than with actually teaching me about it. It's sad that so many people are terrified of this AIDS monster, while knowing hardly a thing about it.