Just north of Eugene, surrounded by farmland, is one of the oldest pioneer cemeteries in the southern Willamette Valley, Luper Cemetery.
I love wandering through old graveyards, looking at the headstones, and piecing together the family relationships. I wonder about these people’s lives and history and I enjoy the markers their families had created for them. In this regard, Luper Cemetery makes for a great visit.
Luper Cemetery was established in the mid-1850s with over half of the graves there dating back to the last half of the 1800s. Scan the headstones and you’ll find the names of families that arrived in some of the first wagon trains on the Oregon and Applegate Trails (and if you go to the Luper Cemetery website, you’ll find links to documents about some of those families). The Find A Grave website says 170 people are buried there. Looking through the names, the earliest burial I could find was in 1856, a man by the name of Thomas Baker, Jr.
Eugene has some large, well-known pioneer cemeteries, but Luper Cemetery is off the beaten path and not well known. You’ll find it on Beacon Drive in North Eugene off of River Road. Most of the time, the gate on Beacon Drive is closed and you’ll need to walk half a mile up a gravel road.
While the walk from the gate to the cemetery is pleasant and level, I know a lot of people would prefer to park closer. Over Veterans Day weekend (November 11-13, 2016), the gate will be open and you can drive all the way to the cemetery. If that weekend doesn’t work for you, keep an eye on the Luper Cemetery website of other open days.