Hallowing the Departed: Scouts revive rural cemetery

CENTER — Every year, usually before a holiday, the families arrive.

In the spring, they bring clippers and cut back the brush, or pull weeds that have sprung up among the graves. In the summer, they mow around the plots, the kids raking up the fresh-cut grass and loading it into barrels to haul to the compost pile.

In the fall, they rake up the brittle brown leaves that fall from the trees that shelter the dead.

But none of the families are related to the people whose graves they tend, nor do they have any ties to the names engraved on the stone markers.

These gravekeepers are Boy Scouts and their families who have adopted a country cemetery and its inhabitants, many of whom, like the town they called home, Center, have been lost in time.

“We’ve found a ton of gravestones that nobody had any record of,” Martin Prescott says.

Prescott is a member of Boy Scout Troop 1480 in Port Hadlock, which took over maintenance of Center Cemetery seven or eight years ago. Nearly an acre in size, the triangular-shaped plot of land on the road between Chimacum and Quilcene was platted in 1892 to serve the growing community hub of Center.

Now just a crossroads, the town had a population of 250 in 1907 and boasted a post office, hotel, general store, school, shingle mill and creamery.

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