pioneer masonic cemtery (grants pass)
I wish I could account for the “Tokay Heights” appellation, but I can’t. Hopefully, it’s locale is known as Tokay Heights.

Nonetheless, this is a good example of cemeteries clustering together and of the importance of the Masons and the Odd Fellows in the formative stages of the post-invasion civilization. Here they left behind six-plus, more-or-less maintained acres comforted by a scattering of evergreens and the iconic mistletoak tree. Mistletoe, that agent of the devil encouraging wanton amorous behavior at the time of the winter solstice, is a parasitic plant that for some reason loves the oak trees of this region. If you look at the trees in the pictures in this set, you’ll notice the tufts of vegetation glomming all over the trees (they’re more visible in winter, naturally); they’re mistletoe balls. They’re everywhere! They’re everywhere!

It should be noted, though, in defense of the mistletoe, that, despite its ubiquity in this region, there’s no known spike in births here nine months after the holiday season; leading one to conclude that either the mistletoe myth is just that, or that no one wants to sit around under oak trees in the middle of December’s cold and mold.

As pioneer cemeteries go, this falls in the middle. Always more interesting than a lawn cemetery, but not as lively as some others in the county. If you’re in town, by all means stop by, and it’s close to the freeway, if you’re only traveling through.

There’s a banner stretched over the main drag in Grants Pass which proclaims, simply, “It’s the Climate!” (And you weren’t even aware you’d asked a question.)

It’s true that the residents of the southeast angle of the state think they have a corner on the good weather in Oregon, but the rest of us just think California starts a little early down there. Their counter-argument is “that’s so much sour grapes,” and they’re probably right. It is the climate.


If you’re looking on maps (e.g. Google), you’ll find the cemeteries (there are two) listed as “Tokay Heights Cemetery,” although that name never shows up at the cemetery site. In any event, the cemetery is right south of Exit 55 off I-5. From either direction, once you’re off the Interstate you want to be heading west on the Redwood Highway (which is the name of the street you’ll be led onto; or, perhaps, Grants Pass Pkwy.), aka Hwy. 199. From there, take the very first street heading south, which will be NE Agness Ave. Take that one block to Spalding Ln./Foothill Blvd. and turn east (to your left) onto Foothill. It will twist back north and immediately come upon the cemetery (and it’s neighbor, the IOOF). Voilà.
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