On a knoll overlooking the vineyards of King Estate to the north, in a grove of Douglas fir and western red cedar, sits the Lorane Grange Cemetery. Hidden in plain sight, this final resting place for longtime Lorane Valley residents goes largely unnoticed but is open to all who wish to pay their respects. In anticipation of Memorial Day weekend, members of the Lorane Grange recently visited the cemetery for their annual cleanup.
Gary Thompson has spent most of his 72 years in Lorane, 50 of them as a member of the Grange. He spearheads the cleanup effort “because that’s the way I was raised,” he says. “It’s history.”
The cemetery came with the property when King Estate acquired the former ranch back in 1990. According to local historian Pat Edwards in her book, “From Sawdust to Cider and Wine,” King Estate provided access to the cemetery which it previously lacked. “They built a blacktop road leading to the cemetery from the winery parking lot. It even sports Lorane’s first street light at the beginning of the road.”
Gary says everyone at the Grange appreciates King Estate’s role in maintaining the cemetery’s place in the valley’s history. “King Estate has been extremely supportive,” he says. “They’ve been great to work with. I could not say enough good about what they’ve done.”
Many of the graves are unmarked today, lost to the vicissitudes of time and weather or trampled by cattle. The oldest grave is that of J.M. Criswell, who died in May 1861. The last burials were of Bertha and Leila Davis in 1966. Gary estimates that the cemetery has 50 to 60 graves, none with names of current Lorane Valley families. Today burials are forbidden because the cemetery isn’t properly mapped out and plotted.
He invites King Estate visitors to talk a walk down the short path and visit the cemetery this Memorial Day weekend or anytime. “It makes you think back about how the area was back then and it’s showing respect to people who went before.”
“From Sawdust to Cider and Wine” is for sale at the Lorane Family Store.