SAN ELIZARIO CEMETERY

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone --Harriet Beecher Stowe

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery, San Elizario, Texas

explored & photographed by: Shady

 

The strangest thing about the desert is how despite it's wide-open, flat, and barren vistas, somehow there are things which still remain hidden. Like this dusty Old West cemetery in the tiny town of San Elizario, a place that seems frozen in time...

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

This forlorn city of the dead sits alongside a desolate desert back-road, seemingly removed from the modern world. I stumbled across the place one day while on a lazy Sunday drive and couldn't resist pulling into the silent graveyard to have a look. It was soooooo quiet out there, seemed like we were the only people left on the Earth.

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

The weathered stones date from as far back as the late 1800's to as recently as 2001. Many of them are falling over. They range in style from the crude- two rough pieces of wood lashed together and hammered into the ground, to the elegant- a finely chiseled cherub monument clutching handfuls of flowers in it's stony grip. But the most eerie sight was the "shallow" graves. They were all over the place- raised, vaguely body-shaped mounds of dirt studding the dusty dry sand...

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

It was a cloudy, chilly day and my fingers began to grow numb as we wandered between the graves. We talked about how no matter how wealthy or poor the departed's loved ones were, they all managed to fashion some sort of loving memorial to their dead. Some even had fresh flowers.

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

We didn't see another living soul while we were looking around. The flat marble eyes of the sculpted angels and Madonnas seemed to follow our movements as we slowly circled the crumbling plots. We found one spot where a grave was seemingly laid at the base of a tree, it's nicked and pebbled trunk serving as it's headstone (above, second from right)

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

Many of the plots are sinking into collapse; some even have gaping fissures allowing a peek into the grave beyond. A wafting smell of decay was laced into the hot, dry air. We tried not to think too hard about what it's source might be, and were careful to avoid stepping into one of the disintegrating sinkholes. This cemetery shares a common quirk with many of the cemeteries of this area- graves enclosed completely by fences. When I was a little kid, I used to find these really creepy... I didn't understood the need for a fenced-in grave. It always seemed to me that the fences were there to act as a sort of barrier between the living and the dead, to keep something inside from getting out.

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

As I was winding my way through the crooked rows, I suddenly noticed a beautiful little spotted desert owl sitting next to one of the graves, watching me intently. I was surprised to find that the owl let me creep in very, very close to snap a few  pics. The owl is a mythological symbol of death and evil; it's also a symbol of  intuition and great wisdom... all depends on who ya ask. I don't know what this little guy's purpose was, but he regarded me with calm curiosity, as long as I didn't get tooooo close. Once or twice he startled and flew away, only to return to the exact same spot near the grave a few minutes later. It was almost like he was standing vigil.

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

San Elizario Cemetery

After awhile the wind began to really pick up, whistling around us and peppering us with sand. I couldn't see to shoot pics anymore- my eyes had begun to tear up from the dust, wind, and cold. I waved goodbye to our feathered friend, who was still tracking our every move with his fierce golden eyes. Then we hopped back to the Shady Lady and hit the road as twilight descended onto the desert.

Oh yeah.

In this remote cemetery, I acquired a new member to my fuzzy family. Her name is Dearly (as in D. Parted), and there is a reason we named her so. While out photographing this very cemetery again one afternoon, I found her abandoned/locked/trapped inside one of the cages that cover so many of the graves- poor thing. She was actually digging into the grave (searching for a bone? *gulp*) when I found her. She had obviously been in there for quite some time, and was extremely malnourished and covered in ticks and dust, with bleeding wounds and injuries all over her body (many were prolly from trying to escape the grave-cage) My heart melted and we brought her away from the grave and the graveyard and home with us...

         

The pic on the left shows her after we brought her home and took her to the vet (she actually looked much worse before that), but you can still see some of her damage- wounds, bald spots, skinned back, dull lifeless eyes, etc. The pics on the right are Dearly now, and she's pretty much healed her wounds (though you can see some scars)... she's made friends with our other pets and seems to be having a blast here. She's a funny, sweet and friendly dog, and very obedient & loving... though very odd-looking. We don't know what she is per se- even the vet didn't think she is pure 'dog' and is probably some kinda weird dog-coyote hybrid (which is common way out in the desert, aka like where we found her)- I think that makes her a sort of American Dingo?! I dunno. We just call her a Chupacabra... ha ha.

Do you have any background information or stories to tell about this lonely site?

 

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