Day of the Dead Cemetery Walk

Folk Trails Hiking Club & Outside Inn Share Their Popular Day of the Dead Walk

Last year’s Day of the Dead walk. Photo by Erin Thiem, Outside Inn


Every year on Day of the Dead, Folk Trails Hiking Club, Outside Inn/Inn Town Campground and Nevada County Cemetery District invite residents and visitors on a lovely four-mile urban walk through Nevada City’s historic cemeteries. The extremely popular event attracts close to one hundred attendees each year, but due to COVID it has been canceled. Instead they are offering an abbreviated self-guided version you can do with your family and close friends.

The stunning fall colors make for a most beautiful backdrop on this walk through Nevada City’s historic cemeteries. You will visit Pioneer Cemetery off of West Broad Street, St. Canice Historical Cemetery and Pine Grove Cemetery on Red Dog Road. Each of these cemeteries offer a glimpse into our past; you’ll learn more about some of the individuals who are buried here and pay respect to those who have come before us.

Add to the experience by picking up a copy of “Cemeteries of the Western Sierra” by local historian Christopher Ward. Chris shares his immense passion and knowledge in the book. And if you ever get the chance, be sure to take his Cemetery Walk up at Malakoff Diggins Historic State Park. You can find the book at Harmony Books, 130 Main Street, Nevada City.

About Cemeteries of Nevada County
The Nevada County Cemetery District operates twenty-seven public cemeteries in western Nevada County– twenty-five historic natural and two modern lawn cemeteries. Eighteen of the cemeteries are open and active, while the remaining nine historic cemeteries are closed and inactive. The transfer of an additional historic cemetery is pending.

Pioneer Cemetery 
Located at the top of West Broad Street, Nevada City
Park on West Broad street and enter just right of the entrance for St Canice Cemetery, or park on East Broad Street or Orchard Street, and enter via the Orchard Street entrance to the St Canice Cemetery.
**Please note that PG&E is scheduled to cut trees in this area.

Points of Interest

  • The cemetery was first established in 1851 on a knoll behind the First Methodist Church, the first denominational church in Nevada County
  • 400 graves are here on close to two acres that date back to the 1850s

Notable people buried here:

  • Alphonse Sutter, son of John Sutter – in 1964, 100 years after his death his remains were excavated from their resting place and moved to his father in Pioneer Grove near Old Town Sacramento.
  • Henry Meredith, a young native of Virginia who dies when his militia group fount against Paiute Indians near Pyramid Lake.
  • Aaron A. Sargent, renowned California pioneer and senator. In 1878, Sargent historically introduced what would later become the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote. The sarcophagus-style memorial once marked his grave in the Laurel Hill Cemetery of San Francisco. His remains were disinterred, and the memorial was moved to Nevada City in 1940. His ashes were sprinkled over the land where his Quaker Hill mining claims were.
  • Felix Gillet, recognized by many as the father of most of the perennial crop agriculture in California and the Western U.S. Gillet immigrated to Nevada City in 1859 from Boston by way of France. Initially the owner of a barber shop, he took a year sabbatical about 1862 and learned more of the nursery trade in his homeland. He came back to Nevada City, became a nurseryman and established his “Barren Hill Nursery” in 1866, one of the first fruit and nut nurseries on the west coast of the United States.

Pine Grove Cemetery 
Located on Red Dog Road
You can enter directly from Red Dog Rd or you can park off of Park Extension Avenue

Pine Grove Cemetery was established in 1851 and is named in honor of Mary Ann Groves, wife of the village undertaker and local businessman William C. Groves. Set on five acres, it is one of the oldest cemeteries in Nevada County and the final resting place of generations of long-established Nevada County families, members of various fraternal organizations, and veterans of the Spanish American War and World War I.

Many of the citizens buried at Pine Grove were born long before gold was discovered and California became a state. Partially restored by a local gardening group, the cemetery features elaborately carved tombstones and intricate ironwork.

The cemetery features 120 varieties of heirloom roses and also has the last known wooden headstone in the area.

Points of Interest

  • The section on the right is Masonic and the section on the left is Odd Fellows.  Further back are general areas and an area for the indigent.
  • Brooklyn Lodge (1852) – When hydraulic mining ceased in California in the late 1800s, the town of Red Dog was abandoned. The Odd Fellows lodge in Red Dog, known as the Brooklyn Lodge, moved to Nevada City and a section of the Pine Grove Cemetery was reserved for the members of the lodge.
  • Nevada City Old Odd Fellows Cemetery (1850) – Dedicated to members of the Odd Fellows and their families.
  • Nevada City New Odd Fellows Cemetery (1938) – Active for members of the Odd Fellows Oustomah Lodge Number 16 and their families only.
  • Take time and look for the various markings on headstones signifying the fraternal groups including the Free Masons, Old Odd Fellows, Woodmen of the World, Knights of Pythias, and Order of the Eastern Star.

Notable People Buried Here

  • Lyman Gilmore – In May 1902 Gilmore built a 32-foot aircraft that was reported to have successfully flown through the air at a rate of 43 mph. As the story goes, only a handful of witnesses were present to see it fly at Gilmore Fields (where Lyman Gilmore Middle School now sits) before it was destroyed in a hangar fire.
  • Marsh Family – Daniel and Martin Luther started the Pioneer Saw Mill and later donated the land that Pioneer Park sits on, note the site is adorned with lavender, rosemary and lily, also note the emblem of the Ancient Order of the Forester (AOF) which the brothers were members of. One of the oldest friendly societies originating in England in 1790.
  • Searls Family – Niles Searls was the first district attorney of Nevada County, a Senator, and served as chief justice of California, Supreme Court Commissioner. Fun fact – Searls and fellow Senator Aaron Sargent were both Freemasons.
  • Shallenberger Plot – includes cousin Moses who was part of the first pioneer party to crest the Sierra Nevada by wagon.
  • Williams Fellows & son Harry Englebright – both US Representatives. Englebright Lake and Dam is named for Harry.
  • Max Solaro – Max Solaro served as a police deputy and began driving a fire truck around 1935. In 1940 he was appointed as police chief by the City Council, at which time he still maintained the operation of the fire truck. Among his other contributions to Nevada City, were his assistance to string the Christmas lights across Nevada City’s streets, and on the community tree at Sacramento and Adams Streets (This immense Redwood Tree was not only lit on Christmas, but on the Fourth of July as well). Over 400 people attended his funeral and the bells of the city announced his funeral cortege. He was interred in the firemen’s section of Pine Grove.

Folks Trails Hiking Club and Outside Inn/Inn Town Campground invites history and nature lovers of all-ages to join them on a series of urban hikes or “micro adventures” through historic Nevada City and its outlying neighborhoods. Led by Jesse Locks, a California Naturalist, founder of Folk Trails Hiking Club and certified in Wilderness First Aid, these hikes are perfect for both residents and visitors looking for a deeper understanding and connection to this beautiful and unique corner of the world.  For more information go to