I know I’m not the only person to have a strange interest in visiting graveyards and cemeteries when traveling. For me, it’s not that they might be haunted or contain some sort of afterlife presence, but that they hold a somber but enlightening look at how society remembers those who came before us.
The outskirts of Virginia City, Nevada, are reminiscent of Western Nevada in general—dry, dusty and deserted. Scrub bushes dot gently rolling hills. Wild horses wander through the miles of BLM-managed land. Homes show signs of wind friction and hot sun. It is here—away from the Wild West vibe of Virginia City—that I wander through the town’s weathered cemetery. Grave sites are randomly placed; some have cast iron fencing marking the plots. Headstones are broken, faded and fallen over. Identities are lost and, in many cases, worn down blocks offer the only reminder of people who once were.
Most intriguing to me, however, are the bedposts. These old bedposts—sometimes a single one and sometimes grouped with others—do not come with headstones. Instead, these bedposts are the sole markers of Virginia City’s former prostitutes, who, like everyone else, lived and died. These are identities without names, remembered only by profession.