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The Dyea Cemetery: Introduction

by Murray Lundberg


Grave of Wilbert Garfield Packard at Dyea, Alaska     What follows is a complete photo-inventory of all 52 markers in the two cemeteries at Dyea, Alaska. I took these photographs in January 2001. It includes captions with all the visible text on each headboard or monument, and other related information, in some cases as links to other sites.

    The most famous cemetery is the Slide Cemetery, where the people killed in the April 3, 1898 "Palm Sunday Avalanche" are buried. Nobody knows exactly how many people were killed or who is buried here - there are huge discrepancies in the accounts of the day, both in numbers and names. Although the generally accepted figure has been in the 65-73 range, Karl Gurcke of the National Park Service at Skagway, who has done extensive research on the avalanche and its victims, feels that the number may be closer to 100.

    The other, much smaller cemetery is a bit closer to the road, and contains bodies that were moved when the original Dyea cemetery was being washed away by the Taiya River in the 1970s. The graves there are for Bert Meeker, Gus Taylor, F.L. Fetter, children John J. Mason and Alice Mason, Mrs. Sophia Matthews and James Leo Workman. There is also a small granite monument honouring some of the native people who died in the area - it is listed here under "Johns".

    There are six headboards in the Slide Cemetery which are illegible. One is thought to be for C. Beck, whose headboard was still intact in 1979. The others are unknown.

Page 1 - Graves A-C

Page 2 - Graves D-G

Page 3 - Graves H-M

Page 4 - Graves O-T

Page 5 - Graves U-W and Unknowns

Page 6 - Buried but Lost
Information on people reported to have been buried at Dyea but now lost.

Victims of the Palm Sunday Avalanche
This complete listing from four major publications shows clearly the difficulty in establishing who was killed.

The photo below shows the view from the Stone House in 1898 - the approximate location of the Palm Sunday Avalanche is at the lowest part of the valley. Click on the photo to greatly enlarge it.

The view from The Stone House on the Chilkoot Pass in 1898

A Guide to Dyea, Alaska

Alaska & Yukon Genealogy Resources

Grave photograph is © 2001 by Murray Lundberg. Chilkoot photograph is by Winter & Pond, from Alaska by Miner Bruce, published by 1898 by G.P. Putnam's Son.