Located in the original Highlands area of Louisville, KY is a cemetery that is an eternal resting place for famous figures as well as natives of the city and people from around the world. Spanning almost three hundred acres, Cave Hill Cemetery not only houses gravesites, but is home to wild life, trees, and exotic plants. Cave Hill Cemetery is Louisville’s only arboretum. Starting out as farm land, it involved into one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the state as well as the nation.
In its genesis, the cemetery was part of an old farm owned
by the Johnson family of Louisville. The farm was named Cave Hill for the cave
located on the property. The cave provided a good source of spring water and
was a prime location for its stone quarries. At the time, the Louisville and
Frankfort Railroads were going to run through the land. Years passed, and the
railroad never did come through. A brick house on the property that the Johnson
family built, was turned into the City Pest House. The Pest House was a home
for people whom had contagious diseases. In 1846, a cemetery element was to be
added to the property. The board of commissioners selected an engineer whom had
hands on experience with a cemetery concept that had its roots in Europe. Mr.
Edmund Frances Lee convinced the board to utilize everything on the grounds of
the farm. Roads would naturally follow the lay of the land, ponds could be
formed from the basins throughout the area and trees could be planted. The
garden setting would provide not only a beautiful backdrop for the graves, but
would also celebrate nature as well as life. Exotic trees, monumental art and
sculptures of granite and marble blanket the old farm.
Located within Cave Hill is Cave Hill National Cemetery. It
is divided up into six sections on the northwest corner of Cave Hill. In 1861
the need for a cemetery grew when the Army was trying to bury the remains of
Union soldiers whom were scattered up and down the Ohio River Valley. That
year, the city of Louisville donated land for their eternal resting places.
What started out as a little over half an acre, now spans four acres within the
nearly 300 acre cemetery. This particular cemetery is home to the oldest Civil
War Memorial in Kentucky and perhaps the U.S. The Bloedner Monument is dedicated
to the thirteen soldiers from the 32nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry
Regime (also known as the 1st German Regime.) The soldiers perished
at the Unions victory at Rowlett’s Station, KY. The monument is named after its
creator August Bloedner. Bloedner had served with the 13th Regime as
well. Made of limestone, it has a German and English inscription that honors
his fellow soldiers. In 2008 the monument was moved off the property to be
restored and brought back in 2010. The Cave Hill National Cemetery also
contains the graves of thirty seven Confederate graves as well as the Unknown
To be buried in this Victorian cemetery showed that one came
from wealth and prestige. Judges, lawyers, baronesses and generals have their
interment here. Beautiful large monuments can be seen throughout the cemetery’s
beautiful landscape. A sculpture of a weeping female titled “Sorrow” can be
found. A Pegasus statue up on a grave stone, a bronze statue of a young girl
swinging and a ballerina pointing to the sky are just a few of the hundreds of
breathtaking memorials seen. Cave Hill is also the eternal home for Mohammad
Ali, KFC’s Colonel Harland Sanders and highest ranking officer during the
American Revolutionary War, George Rogers Clark.
When one things of a cemetery, they think of death, gloom,
sadness and heartbreak. Cave Hill Cemetery has the ability to have one change
their perspectives upon driving through its gates. While the cemetery does
indeed honor death, it celebrates life on so many forms. Through its beautiful
monuments, to its sprawling hills, canopies of trees and swans floating on
ponds, the cemetery captures the essence of the circle of life. Cave Hill
commemorates life as well as death.