Saving Graves

Bluffs Pioneer Cemetery 
Mammoth Lakes, Mono, California



Date: August 5, 2001

Cemetery: Bluffs Pioneer Cemetery
Established: 1876
Street: Fir  and Le Verne
Type: Road-public
City: Mammoth Lakes, 1 mile
Township: Mammoth Lakes
County: Mono
State: California
Nation: US
Zip: 93546
Nearby: Old Mammoth Road
Location: Urban-developed
Land: Flat
Watersource: No
Features: The area is wooded but is recently under major housing development
Sign: No
Land Type: Private
Access: Open
Enclosure: None
Gate: None
Status: Abandoned
Size: Medium
Gravestones: 17
Oldest: 1876
Newest: 1882
Unmarked: Yes
Broken: No
Toppled: No
Buried: Yes
Removed: Yes
Weather problems: No
Pollution problems: No
Association: No
Records: No
Inventory: Yes
Records location: The Bluffs Environmental Impact Report, L.K. Johnson and Associates, July 15, 1995. Located at the Town of Mammoth Lakes Planning Department and Library.
Condition: Cemetery neglected
Vandalized: Yes
Police report: No
VA: Gravestones-Stolen
VA: Graves-Desecrated
Overgrowth: Graves-Disturbing
Vegetation: Ground-Cover
Drainage: Good
Problem: Apathy
Restoration: No work started as of yet
Owner: Private
Use: Residential
Bordering: Residential
Change: Larger
Reason: Housing
Visited: Occasionally
Archeology: No
Contacted: Town Planning Commission, State Historic Preservation Office, Mammoth Times Newspaper

Other Information

There has been an Environmental Impact Report done on this area prior to the development that is now taking place. The cemetery was mentioned in the report and it was recommended that it be set aside as an historical site. There was never a complete archeological dig done in the area and although the DEIR does state there are 17 gravesite in a given lot number, there is likely many more. The Town of Mammoth Lakes promised to set one particular lot aside and protect the graves when citizens found out that parts of the cemetery had been damaged by bulldozers. This happened three years ago and since then they have done nothing to protect it and the situation had gotten worse. I have talked to the Senior Town Planner in charge of the Bluffs project and he claims it is private property and it is the owners responsibility to protect it and move the remains before building. There are laws in California that set aside cemeteries that contain six or more gravesites, that they are to be set aside as public land but this area has been under private ownership since 1923. Since then it has been sold and resold and the lot that was to be set aside as an historical site has been divided up into three lots and sold out instead. The lots are selling for 250,000 dollars so money seems to talk in this town. I would really appreciate it if I can get the names of the people to contact that would see that the laws are enforced since the planning commission is more concerned with developing the area. There has been numerous citizen complaints and the newspapers have covered the situation and is presently writing an update but the cemetery is being trampled on by machinery and just recently the only marker that was left at the cemetery (not a headstone but a cement marker placed by a concerned citizen in the 1950s's)has disappeared. I called the State Historical Preservation Office to try and give it historical status but they said the fact that there are no headstones left and it is on private property, there was little chance of it


Linda Ellsworth, Museum Caretaker, Mammoth Museum,

Submitted by:

name: Linda Ellsworth