In 1848, five local farmers donated 5.5 acres of land to create Woodland Cemetery. Originally known as Fort Des Moines Cemetery, the first burial in this historical cemetery happened in 1850 and the City of Des Moines took ownership in 1857. In 1864, the City added 36.5 acres and was expanded to 69 acres later. Designated in 1986 as a local historic landmark, efforts are underway to protect and preserve the memories and stories of the 80,000 buried within this unique location.
Over the years, dirt, lichens, mold and mildew have taken a toll on the stones and some that are porous (sandstone and limestone) have broken them down. Maintenance of stones typically is the responsibility of the owner but in this cemetery, many of the families have moved away or are long since passed. A generous gift from the community is allowing staff, contractors and volunteers to help restore the stones and protect the memories and history within this cemetery. The first phase of the project is lifting, straightening and securing stones that have shifted over time. Following this, volunteers and staff will work together in small groups to clean the stones.
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