Carmel Valley Cemetery
Article by Allison Garton:
Chances are, you’ve driven by this hidden little cemetery and never even noticed. Tucked on a hillside beside Highway 56, behind St. Terese of Carmel Catholic Church, lies the final resting place of Carmel Valley pioneers, including several Sisters of Mercy and priests. The Carmel Valley Cemetery was established by the Sisters of Mercy around 1900 on land acquired from the McGonigle family. The McGonigles were the first Anglos to settle in what is now known as Carmel Valley and some were interred in the tiny cemetery, but their markers have long since been destroyed by fire or vandals.
Only 55 of the roughly 100 burials are marked. All wooden and handmade markers were destroyed long ago by fire. Catholics to the west, Protestants to the east, the division within Christianity is clear even in death. There are not many Protestant graves, but markers remain for the Knechtels, another pioneer family.
Prior to construction of the 56 freeway, a bridge connected the cemetery to Mount Carmel Ranch, the farm operated by the Sisters of Mercy to supply Mercy Hospital with milk and fresh produce. Since 2006, the Knights of Columbus Council has maintained the cemetery even though it is officially under the jurisdiction of Holy Cross Cemetery.
To reach the cemetery, park at St Terese, follow the walkway along the Stations of the Cross, down the hillside through the gate.