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Historic IE cemetery receives federal funds

March 16, 2011 5:20:05 PM PDT
A historic cemetery in Oro Grande near Victorville has been called a little-known treasure. It has some 100 graves, the final resting place of mostly miners and their families. There is a much-needed facelift in its future.

A steady wind blows through the Oro Grande Cemetery where flagstones outline the final resting places and weathered white crosses mark the area for the inhabitants buried there. It is a place forgotten by time.

Joe Manners is the unofficial caretaker of the century-old cemetery, and its champion.

For more than two decades, he has been after San Bernardino County to fund its upkeep and repairs.

"Some of that history, we should have something in Oro Grande to remember that Oro Grande was a boom town when Victorville was a ranch," said Manners.

On Wednesday the county approved a $15,000 grant to build a parking lot and decorative fence to beautify the historic site. Prior to the funding approval the county used ground-penetrating radar to locate unmarked graves to ensure the area would not be disturbed by the construction.

"We were able to get some community development block-grant funding from the federal government -- a small grant, but enough to do some basic improvements," said Brad Mitzelfelt, San Bernardino County First District supervisor.

There are between 90 and 100 graves in the Oro Grande Cemetery. Many belong to the original founders of this once-booming town.

The gold-mining town is one of the earliest settlements in San Bernardino County and the final resting place for several of Oro Grande's military heroes.

"When Memorial Day comes around, the VFW in Adelanto comes and clears all the weeds and gets the place cleaned up and they do a Memorial Day service," said Manners.

The county hopes to finish its improvement project by Memorial Day in time to honor and remember the pioneers and founders of this desert community.