I will always be obsessed with river towns, especially those on the Mississippi River. For the first time in nearly a decade, I was recently able to spend a day roaming about St. Louis.. I spent three warm afternoon hours at the Bellefontaine Cemetery. Any decent expanse of green space in an urban setting will always catch my eye. The grounds were cared for with great attention to detail. Several grounds keepers and crews were busy picking up branches that had made their way to the ground in the previous spring thunderstorm. I approached one of the gentleman who was carefully tending to the tulips.
“The grounds are beautiful,” I said.
He grinned and pride shown in his expression.
“It’s a lot of work, but I there’s no way to explain to someone who’s never been here how amazing this job is.”
We chatted for about five minutes. It was near the end of his day and I didn’t want to delay his homecoming any longer. I bid him well and snapped a few more pictures. He returned to his tulips, picked two and walked toward his truck.
“I spend a lot of time with these beauties. Sometimes I like to take a couple home at the end of the day.”
Many notable characters in American history have found their final resting place in Bellefontaine, many of which are notable in American history. William Clark, half of the famous duo entrusted to map the Louisiana Purchase, rests on the edge of the property. Civil War generals Don Carlos Buell and Sterling Price (also a former governor of Missouri) each have impressive monuments in their honor.
Thomas Hart Benton is buried near the center of the cemetery near a sprawling Hackberry tree. Any Missourian worth their salt knows the name of the famous Missouri muralist. His work decorates buildings and walls throughout the midwest. Born in Neosho, Missouri, he later studied art in Chicago and Paris. His life ended in his Kansas City home and he was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in 1975 after 85 years on this earth.
Bellefontaine Cemetery is well worth the time if you find yourself in St. Louis. Weathered stones erected to booked past stories and natural charm await all visitors on the three miles circuit. The living on the grounds of the cemetery serve as an ongoing memorial to those who rest there.