By Kaylee Lindenmuth
GIRARDVILLE - Sprawling the side of Locust Mountain above PA Route 54, reclaimed by nature sits Saint Joseph's Cemetery, whose last burial occurred in 1954.
Easily missed by passing motorists, the cemetery borders the highway midway between Julia and Beech Streets on Mahanoy Avenue.
A walk through the cemetery today is difficult, not necessarily because of its steep incline, but the results of over 60 years of disuse.
Headstones lie toppled, under brush, or are even missing. Fencing which once bordered plots now sits mangled and twisted. The pieces that once made up beautiful tile nameplates are strewn along the grassy ground.
Many of the headstones still legible are from the 1800s, residents who passed away within a decade or two of the borough's incorporation. Others are as recent as the 1940s.
Flags adorn some veterans headstones, while others lie hidden in the brush. In one case, a veterans flag marker stands flag-less with no headstone nearby.
The cemetery was operated by Saint Joseph's Roman Catholic Church from it's inception around 1870, according to some reports.
In 1954, the cemetery chose to bury its dead in a Fountain Springs cemetery, instead of Girardville, and the hillside cemetery sat abandoned.
According to some historians, over 3,000 are buried in the cemetery.
In 2015, Saint Joseph's Church merged closed, merging with the other Roman Catholic parishes in Ashland, Gordon, and Girardville, forming St. Charles Borromeo, based in Ashland.
Now, on May 31 at 6pm, the church will hold a community meeting, at the Parish Center in Ashland, regarding community concerns about the inactive cemetery.
For more information regarding the meeting, call the parish office at 570-875-1521.