Exploring the Backwoods with Avenza Maps

Avenza map app icon

Avenza SmartPhone app

During my summer vacation, I explored much of the Eldorado National Forest. Navigating the nearby forest roads was easy after downloading the Avenza map application and purchasing the map for $4.99 from Avenza’s webpage https://www.avenzamaps.com. The map, drawn up by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Forest Service), often included information to sites not normally referenced on standard driving maps. I was curious about one such site marked “Cem.”  Cell service was sporadic in this area, but the app worked offline, so I could follow my real-time progress, shown with a blue dot.

Grave marker for T. M. Simpson

Grave marker for T. M. Simpson, aged 35, died 1862.

The cemetery was located off Indian Diggings Road, a long, dead-end dirt road. Along the drive, I passed the remnants of an old miner’s cabin, still standing but tilted. The area, rich with gold rush history, still showed evidence of dredging, with mounds of soil and large rocks tossed randomly through the woods. A nearby marble quarry, now defunct, supplied some of the material for the monuments. Marble from this quarry was known for the blue veins that ran through the stone. As I neared the end of the road, I briefly caught a glimpse of one of the taller tombstones rising above a narrower pat, which was overgrown with manzanita. I put the car in reverse, drove back and parked. The cemetery showed signs of neglect and was blanketed in pine needles. Faded artificial flowers adorned one gravesite. Like many isolated and historical cemeteries, it was likely vandalized through the years. From later research, I learned of 34 confirmed burials but could only locate 26 engraved headstones. I was able to learn more about the cemetery at findagrave.com.

old miner's cabin

Old Miner’s Cabin

The video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGPln56XNVs&t=3s) shown above depicts the cemetery in August 2019.

I was able to learn more at Findagrave.com (http://bit.ly/diggings)