Goldfield Pioneer Cemetery

by Kaylah Stroup

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After visiting Tonopah Cemetery I guess my excitement got the best of me because I fell asleep as soon as we got back into the car. I woke up a short time later to Jeff asking “wanna stop at this cemetery?” I’m not sure I’ve ever said no to that question. We pulled in and I realized it was actually a place I already had mapped out before leaving Ohio and was planning on getting us directions to.

The day had already had its fair share of awesomeness. I was super tired from being on the road all day but there was one headstone I had to hunt down here or else I wouldn’t be satisfied. This property is really unique because there are actually multiple cemeteries here, each sectioned off and with it’s own sign. I was in search of the oldest one – Goldfield Pioneer Cemetery.

According to the plaque, this cemetery was originally located within the city of Goldfield until 1908 when the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad Co. ran its main line alongside the graves in order to be as close to the business district as possible. The railroad company didn’t want the passengers stepping off the train onto the graves, and the city didn’t want graves near its largest hotel. Under the cover of darkness, a group of men known as “official ghouls” moved the remains to their current location.

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The headstone I was specifically looking for? “Unknown man died eating library paste” Find me a better headstone than that, I dare you. The moment I saw a photo of it online I knew I had to go there and see it for myself. Luckily the cemetery is located in what I’d consider a hot spot of other interesting road side attractions so its not even like we had to go out of the way to stop here. (…but even if we did – worth it!)

The story is that a homeless man was wondering the streets, looking for something to eat. In the library’s trash he found some book paste which at the time was a mixture of flour, water, and alum. Large quantities of alum are toxic when consumed, especially on an empty stomach.

I think its so interesting when a headstone states the cause of death. Tonopah Cemetery was really the only other place I’ve seen it so abundantly. Its definitely not something that’s common anymore.

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Goldfield Pioneer Cemetery easily ranks among one of the most interesting cemeteries I’ve ever been to, even without the library paste headstone! In retrospect, I wish I had had the energy to explore the other graveyards in the area. I’m sure there were lots of other hidden gems!

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