Elisabeth Walton Potter, long-time Salem area historian and preservationist, regaled us with the history of this early Salem cemetery located south of the Downtown Historic District at Commercial and Hoyt Streets SE.
Known originally as the Odd Fellows Rural Cemetery, the cemetery was opened in 1854 by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization. In September of 2013, the cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places under this original name. The 17-acre park has been owned by the City of Salem since 1954. The Salem Pioneer Cemetery website describes its significance as being an outstanding cultural landscape in the 19th century Rural Cemetery tradition and as the final resting place of founders and leaders of Oregon government, institutions, commerce, and industry.
The public is always welcome to visit the cemetery to enjoy its beauty, history, and serenity. Maps of the cemetery and burial records are available at the cemetery and on their website, should you be interested in locating a specific grave.
The cemetery has been maintained by the City of Salem with major assistance from the Friends of Pioneer Cemetery. They are always looking for more volunteers to help them care for the beautiful grounds as well as the headstones, and are happy to provide you the training to do this properly. You can contact the Friends through the Cemetery website, or contact Tibby Larson at the Park Operations division of the City's Public Works Department.