The neglected, broken roads around Valence Cemetery in New Orleans will shake your car to death. The tombs are in similar disrepair.
As he guides me through the latest vandalism inflicted upon Valence, Adam Stevenson, President of the Save Our Cemeteries volunteer organization, notes the conditions of the brick, marble, and cement.
“What do the citizens want more, streets or cemeteries?” he asks.
New Orleans’ iconic aboveground cemeteries—an adaptation to regional flooding that makes burial untenable—are one of the many reasons tourists flock to the city. But the tombs deteriorate in Louisiana’s extreme weather, and they face break-ins and vandalism from treasure-seekers. City-owned Valence is less famous than some of New Orleans’s 42 other graveyards, so maintaining it hasn’t been anyone’s priority for a long time. The city does a passable job trimming the grass, but upkeep of the tombs falls to their owners, the majority of whom have died themselves—or otherwise disappeared—over the years.
That leaves it to independent volunteer groups like Stevenson’s to fix the crumbling landmarks. Today, they’re doing urgent work.
“This is the second cemetery where we’ve had an emergency operation like this,” Stevenson says, standing before bones made visible by vandals. “Between here and Lafayette No. 2 [another cemetery] in the Garden District, there were about 20-odd open vaults. Something just had to be done.” CLICK HERE to read the rest at National Geographic…
Or take this Haunted Cemetery Tour of New Orleans: