CO CENTRAL SOUTHEAST
District No. 1360

Mt Pisgah Cemetery

Most visitors and residents alike who visit Mt Pisgah Cemetery in Cripple Creek go to see the old headstones, the resting places of the famous and infamous like Pearl DeVerl, and the resting places of the sublime like the three horses buried there. They come away with a sense of turn-of-the-century Cripple Creek and a cemetery long since frozen in time with little connection to today. For one area within the cemetery they would be wrong, for it continues to be tended by its owners and is added to year after year. That is the Elk's Rest and its Annex.

The Cripple Creek Elks were established in 1895 in the heyday of Cripple Creek when life was fast and furious in local mining and a growing community. By 1903 twenty-one of their members had passed away and they realized the need to obtain a fitting area within the cemetery for departed members. They purchased a section of Mt Pisgah Cemetery, surrounded it with wrought iron fencing and an impressive gate, and erected perhaps the tallest monument still standing in Mt Pisgah Cemetery in respect for those departed members.

The monument stands fifteen feet tall behind a gate that identifies the section as an Elks Rest. At it's top is an image of the Sun that lights the days of Elks throughout their lives. Just below that is an image of a clock poised at the Hour of Eleven PM - this is the hour that all Elks pause to remember members who are away from home or who have passed on. Next are four Elks draped with the destination Cripple Creek Lodge each looking to a cardinal point of the compass watching over members who are absent. Below the Elks are inscribed the names of those first twenty-one Cripple Creek Elks who passed on before the Elks Rest was established. Finally at the base, B.P.O.E #316 is written identifying the Order and the Lodge in Cripple Creek.

Surrounding the monument are 70 years of Cripple Creek Elks who have decided to rest here in this Elks Rest instead of a personal plot. Often their spouse lies next to them. Mike Kelley, B.P.O.Elks Grand Lodge Historian explains "While we can't fully understand all the social factors which might have induced an Elk in 1905 to want to be buried in an Elks Rest as opposed to some more traditional family plot, we must accept it as irrefutable proof of a strong commitment to the Order, certainly on the part of the deceased Elk, but also by the Lodge which consecrated the site in the first place."

At Mt Pisgah Cemetery that desire did not go away in 1905, but continued for 70 years in the Elks Rest and still continues today. Once filled, the Cripple Creek Elks purchased a second nearby section of the Cemetery, and with another impressive gate (built in 2000 by member Randy MacGregor) designated it as the Elks Annex dedicated "To Our Absent Brothers." Here Cripple Creek Elks continue to choose to show "irrefutable proof of a strong commitment to the Order" and according to Cemetery Caretaker & PDDGER Art Tremayne the number of Elks resting there grow each year.

Unlike some fraternal groups with sections located in the cemetery, Cripple Creek Elks haven't forgotten their departed members at Mt Pisgah. Each summer the monument is inspected for wear and maintenance, headstones are leveled and repaired, fences are mended or painted. The history of the Elk's Rest is not frozen at the turn-of-the-century but continues in an unbroken line year-by-year from 1904 to today and into the 21st Century.

Those first twenty one Elks include:

Joseph Troy 1868-1895, George Smith 1861-1895, Eugene Blair 1859-1896, Charles Gough 1855-1897, Frank Whitney 1854-1898, Joseph Moore 1865-1899, Joseph Mahoney 1865-1899, G.W. Henderson 1863-1899, J.L. Hunter 1866-1899, George Lindsey 1860-1900, B.F. Wright 1863-1900, G. Allen 1870-1900, John Rand 1843-1901, Alexander Cameron 1858-1902, Thomas Collins 1854-1903, Jason Doyle 1857-1903, and George Smith 1851-1903.


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