This Halloween season brought out many spooky stories and legends about local cemeteries.
However, graveyards don't always have to be the scary domain of hauntings and horrors. They can be beautiful, too.
Here is a roundup of the some of the more pleasant cemeteries that I've found in the region -- if you visit during the daytime.
If not for the headstones, the terrain at Cobden's city cemetery could pass as a miniature version of nearby Giant City State Park, complete with bluffs and rock monoliths.
A driveway meanders through the rock outcroppings, passing burial plots that have been strategically placed between sandstone formations.
Directions: Take Highway 146 east to Anna. At the four-way stop just past the railroad crossing, turn left on Old US 51. Follow the highway north to Cobden. Just after crossing the bridge over the railroad tracks, turn right on Appleknocker Drive. Continue past the high school and look for the cemetery entrance on the left.
Sargents Chapel Cemetery
Sargents Chapel, located northeast of Sedgewickville along the Cape-Bollinger county line, is best known for the display of daffodils that appear in early spring. These flowers, which start at the chapel cemetery, run for a considerable distance along a county road. Even when the daffs aren't blooming, the hillside cemetery provides a clear view of the classic white church.
Directions: From Cape Girardeau, take Highway 72 west. Just before reaching Millersville, turn right on Route B. Then turn left on Route AA at Daisy. Follow this paved road to the Bollinger County line, where the pavement ends. Continue ahead on County Road 266 as it passes through a farm, and then turn left at the T-junction with CR 234. The cemetery and church are ahead on the left.
The Bollinger name can be found all over Bollinger County. One such placename is the Bollinger Cemetery beyond the end of Route EE west of Sedgewickville. This rural graveyard is most notable for its concrete entrance arch and elaborate balustrade railing.
It also features a pastoral view of the surrounding countryside.
Directions: Take Highway 72 west through Millersville to Bollinger County. Turn right on Route K and drive to Sedgewickville. At the intersection in Sedgewickville, turn left on Route EE. Continue until the pavement ends, then drive straight another 0.8 miles on County Road 246. The cemetery is on the right.
Maintz Family Plot
Maintz Wildlife Preserve near Daisy in Cape Girardeau County features sunflower fields, an archery range, and several ponds. It also includes a small cemetery with four headstones for members of the pioneer Maintz family, some of which are written in German.
I stumbled across the cemetery while looking for morel mushrooms. I only found one morel, but I did notice a large cluster of vinca -- also known as periwinkle -- a flower that is commonly associated with rural cemeteries. The graves occupy a choice hillside location overlooking a picturesque boulder field along Sandy Branch creek.
Directions: Take Interstate 55 north to the Oak Ridge exit. Turn left on Route E and drive through Oak Ridge to Route B. Turn left on Route B, then make a sharp right on County Road 472. At the four-way intersection with County Road 471, turn left. Drive 0.6 miles and look for the parking lot (#4) on the right.
The cemetery is tricky to find since no roads or trails lead to it. The GPS coordinates are 37.48121, -89.79082. From the parking area, hike northeast (while avoiding private property) and then follow the creek as best as possible.
Mount Olive Cemetery
This rural cemetery northeast of Reevesville in Pope County, Illinois, sits at the crest of a ridge with spectacular views in every direction.
With much of the land surrounding the cemetery owned by the Shawnee National Forest, this is an fun area to explore.
Directions: Take Highway 146 east to Highway 145 near Dixon Springs. Follow Highway 145 south for 2 miles to the hamlet of Renshaw. Then turn right on Renshaw Road and drive 0.8 miles to a lane on the right that should have a sign for Mount Olive Cemetery. Follow this lane north for 0.2 miles to the cemetery.
Garrison Hill Cemetery at Fort Kaskaskia
The village of Kaskaskia was the first state capital of Illinois, but by the 1880s the old townsite was doomed: it was being swallowed by the encroaching Mississippi River. In response, a large number of graves were relocated from Kaskaskia to a new site across the river. The new burial ground, Garrison Hill Cemetery, occupies a hilltop location with a commanding view of what is now Kaskaskia Island. The cemetery is part of Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site.
Directions: Take Interstate 55 north to Perryville, then Highway 51 north to Chester. At the T-junction with Highway 3, turn left. Drive 5.6 miles and turn left on Shawneetown Trail (look for the sign for Fort Kaskaskia). Follow this road to the entrance to Fort Kaskaskia on the right. Along the park road, look for the obelisk on the left which commemorates the establishment of the cemetery.
Old Lorimier Cemetery
Last but not least, Cape Girardeau's oldest cemetery features an excellent view of the river, plus a landscape that is photogenic in all seasons.