MARIETTA - Among Marietta's most popular attractions is Mound Cemetery, but those who visit the graveyard and climb to the top of the prehistoric mound may not be aware they're walking through more than 2,000 years of history.
This summer a new guided tour of the cemetery by docents from The Castle on Fourth Street is designed to provide visitors with a better understanding of the burial ground's historical significance.
"The cemetery really encapsules our whole history, from the mound builders 2,000 years ago to the current day," said Scott Britton, executive director of The Castle museum in Marietta.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Scott Britton, local historian and executive director of The Castle, is shown at the memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers buried in Washington County in Marietta’s Mound Cemetery. Tours of the cemetery are being offered.
Mound Cemetery is the final resting place for more Revolutionary War officers than any other cemetery in the country. The graveyard's connection to the college team names for Ohio State and Louisiana State universities, or that the etchings on one large gravestone tells who's not buried there.
"And one of the flags in the cemetery honoring Revolutionary War soldiers who are buried in Washington County bears the name of Nathaniel Chapman, the father of John Chapman-Johnny Appleseed," Britton said.
He said Mound Cemetery is full of historical stories that the most difficult part of designing the tour will be deciding which tales to tell.
If You Go
What: Tours of Marietta's historic Mound Cemetery.
Where: At the cemetery main entrance at the intersection of Fifth and Scammel streets.
When: 10 a.m. Saturdays from June through August. Group tours are available now.
Tickets: Available at the cemetery gate (cash only) on tour days, or in the Carriage House at The Castle, 418 Fourth St., Marietta.
Prices: $5 for adults, children under 5 years free. Combination tours of Mound Cemetery and The Castle available for $10. No reservations required. Cemetery group tours of 10 or more available now by arrangement.
Contact: Call The Castle at 373-4180 for information or to arrange a group tour.
Group tours are available by appointment and the cemetery tour will then be held at 10 a.m. Saturdays from June through August. It is replacing The Castle's former architectural tours of Marietta.
"The architectural tours were centered around historic homes within a couple blocks of The Castle, and we've had those tours for at least 10 years," Britton said. "But over the last few years the interest had really dwindled, so we needed to find a new tour that would bring more participation. The architectural tour had just run its course."
He said the Mound Cemetery tour is brand new.
"I would often see a lot of people-especially tourists from out of town-wandering around the cemetery looking at stones and monuments, but not knowing the stories behind them," Britton said.
When he shared some of those tales, Britton found that people were amazed at the history beneath their feet.
"It struck me that these people are really interested in the history and the cemetery's connection to many national events that changed our country," he said. "So we decided to develop the Mound Cemetery tour."
Recently Britton provided a training tour to help familiarize the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau staff with the cemetery's history.
"It was such a learning experience for me," said Lyndsay Offenberger, public relations and communications coordinator for the bureau. " I'm not the biggest history buff, but when you hear these stories connected to our history, you realize how much we take for granted. And it's here in our own backyard."
Bureau Executive Director Jeri Knowlton agreed.
"With all the current attention being paid to the American Civil War, local cemeteries are becoming popular historic sites," she said. "And Mound Cemetery has such a rich history going back to the Revolutionary War and beyond. I think The Castle is capitalizing on a topic in which people will be very interested."
Knowlton said the cemetery is another asset and opportunity to present Marietta to visitors in a distinctive way.
"It's exciting," she said. "We're promoting the tour, and I'm glad The Castle is taking this on."