Cemetery Crosses

Cripple Creek Hand Carved Cross

 

Cemetery Cross

Karen Rivera 2012
Cripple Creek, Colorado

Scattered on a barren, windswept hilltop, outside of town and hidden from the casinos that have taken over the entire town, handmade crosses mark the graves of the miners who died far away from home.


Black Iron Cross

Black Iron Cross Fence
Nambe, New Mexico Cemetery
Karen Rivera 2009


Hidden Grave with Flowers ~ Nambe, New Mexico

Nambe Cemetery
Nambe Pueblo, New Mexico
Karen Rivera
January 2011

I shoot a lot of cemetaries. For heart-rending, technicolor boisterous displays, you just can’t beat a New Mexican cemetary on Easter, Day of the Dead or Christmas. I’ve made it to my favorite, the Nambe Church cemetary in Nambe, every Boxing Day for most of the last 20 years. I follow that up with New Year’s Day in Acoma. It seems to make the perfect emotional double-header.

I found this small, weathered cross tucked away in a far corner surrounded by tumbleweeds and scruffy dead plants. The new flowers shows that this lonely hidden grave hadn’t been forgotten.


Sanctuario Church Tower with Cross

Church Tower with Cross, Chimayo
Chimayo, New Mexico
Karen Rivera 2007


San Franciso Church ~ New Mexico Ghost Town Village Church


San Franciso Church ~ 1976

Golden, New Mexico
Karen Rivera

Golden, New Mexico, on the Turquoise Trail,  is having  a bit of a renaissance these days. It’s still a ghost town but the few houses have been restored and the old Mercantile is open in the summer for the tourists. Built in 1830, he San Francisco Church off Highway 14, doesn’t look much different than when I was shooting black and whites in the mid-70’s. Restored in 1960 by Fray Angelico Chavez while he was the padre of St. Joseph’s Church in Los Cerrillos, the graveyard has mostly escaped the vandalism common to New Mexico’s abandoned mining towns.

 

 


Grace Morales, 1893 ~ Graveyard Crosses

Grace Morales, 1893 ~ Graveyard Crosses
Illustration
Karen Rivera 2010


Village Church at Manzano, New Mexico

Manzano, Founded 1824
Manzano, New Mexico
Karen Rivera

Manzano is one of New Mexico’s small almost ghost towns tucked away in the Cibola National Forest. With an estimated population of 54, the main attractions are its photo opps and  the legendary Manzano Mountain Retreat.

For 35 years, the working apple farm has produced  4,000 bushels of apples and 3,000 gallons of cider annually. A daily update on the web site lists which of the 34 types are currently available.

The aerial shot below, taken from the Manzano Mountain Retreat website shows the orchards cut out of the forest.


Vintage Sanctuario Photograph ~ Classic Northern New Mexico Adobe Church


Church at Sanctuario, 1950’s

Chimayo, New Mexico
Scanned Vintage Postcard
Karen Rivera

This vintage postcard of Sanctuario left me stunned. I’ve shot hundreds of photographs of the church but I never saw it as a real small Northern New Mexican town chuch like those scattered all over the state until I found this postcard.


San Antonio Church ~ Punta de Agua, New Mexico


Punta de Agua

Highway 55, Southern New Mexico
Karen Rivera

The small villages along Highway 55 have always held a special place in my hard-scrabble New Mexican heart. Using the few resources available in the barren, harsh acres early settlers recycled the ever-present rocks into homes, walls, and churches.

In Punta de Agua, the rough-cut stone San Antonio Church stands as a monument to an earlier example of sustainable and green building.

If you’d like to walk through Punta de Agua at street level, click here to go to Google Maps, then click satellite.

 


San Antonio Church, Punta de Agua

Punta de Aqua
Highway 55, Southern New Mexico
Karen Rivera

The small villages along Highway 55 have always held a special place in my hard-scrabble New Mexican heart. Using the few resources available in the barren, harsh acres early settlers recycled the ever-present rocks into homes, walls, and churches.

In Punta de Aqua, the rough-cut stone San Antonio Church stands as a monument to an earlier example of sustainable and green building.

If you’d like to walk through Punta de Aqua at street level, click here to go to Google Maps, then click satellite.


Carlos Sena’s Carved Cross

Carlos Sena’s Carved Cross
Our Lady of Sorrows Cemetary
Bernalillo, New Mexico
kd sebastian 2010

This unusual obelisk style grave stone is beautifully carved by hand from rock brought down from Dixon, New Mexico. Lilies, matching flaming hearts and stylized swirls give a European feel to this stone. Truly the work of a craftsman, it stood out as one of the few stones not vandalized or tagged with gang signed graffiti.


Andreita Avila’s Cross

Andreita Avila’s Cross
Our Lady of Sorrows Cemetery
Bernalillo, New Mexico
kd sebastian 21010

There’s something so touching about handmade grave markers. Many of the cemeteries in New Mexico have suffered from vandalism and neglect. Families die out, move away or simply abandon the traditional New Mexican ways.

My favorite crosses are what I call the “hard times” crosses: handmade from whatever durable materials could be afforded. Rebar, cement, wood, rocks–everything is fair game and free. Oddly enough, the poorer the community, the better kept the graveyards are.

Andreita Avila’s Cross is on the left side of Our Lady of Sorrows Graveyard in Bernalillo, New Mexico. It’s proximity to the Placitas off-ramp has made it a vandal’s dream so it was heart-warming to find this small pocket size memorial exactly where it was placed  years ago.


Izzie’s Easter Cross

Izzie’s Easter Cross
Bernalillo, New Mexico
sebastian 2010


Cornelio’s Cross

Cornelio’s Cross
Northern New Mexico
sebastian 2010


Dinner for Two

Dinner for Two
acrylic on fir
sebastian 2005

The crosses in the painting on the wall keep the afterlife ever present no matter how festive the dinner.


Rebar Cross

Rebar Cross
Bernalillo, New Mexico
sebastian 2010

All across New Mexico, small town cemetaries are filled with handmade shrines and gravestones. This simple welded cross sits at the top of an unmarked grave tucked into the corner of the Our Lady of Sorrows graveyard in Old Bernalillo.


Pressed Tinwork Cross

Pressed Tinwork Mexican Cross
Bernalillo, New Mexico
sebastian 2010


Hidden Cross with Flowers

Nambe Cemetery, Nambe New Mexico
sebastian 2005

Tucked away in a far corner, this small, weathered cross with new flowers shows that the hidden grave hasn’t been forgotten.