By Daniel Robert
Nearly fifteen years ago they cleared the forest behind the bus garage at my old high school to make room for new sports fields. My dad said they found the mausoleum on the hill when they were building the road and didn’t really know what to do about it. You drive right past the vault when you go to the football field, and most people I’ve asked about it, from my town, seem to either not know it’s there, or aren’t curious about it.
I haven’t lived in town since the year 2000. I finally climbed the hill one afternoon last year and took some photos. I was surprised that the door was unlocked and also cracked open, maybe three inches. I didn’t go in, just stuck my iPhone through the opening and took a few pictures.
It’s one of the strangest things, and no one seems to find it creepy. It’s on a steep, mostly forested hill that meets the road, and I think they put a partial gate around the front, back when they uncovered it, but it doesn’t look like the structure or immediate grounds get any type of routine maintenance. There’s a family name attached to the vault itself, and I’ve looked up the name in the county records. I believe they were wealthy landowners from the 19th century who ran a profitable tin mill.
My little brother was in high school when they found the mausoleum, and he said the kids had stories about it, and that he knew a few guys that would go inside the mausoleum at night and drink, trying and scare each other with scary stories. I guess they got in trouble at one point, and the school put an end to it. Yet, it still sits on that lonely hillside, its door cracked open, and inside things are a real mess. I imagine opossums and skunks are in there all the time, chewing on anything they can find. To me it’s doubly sad, to think that there are likely people’s remains still inside, and also that tons of folks drive past it every weekend, and to them it’s just part of the landscape.