Special to the Daily News
Pine Mountain State Resort Park will hold a commemoration event at noon on Saturday to dedicate the newly restored Wilderness Road Cemetery, and honor Pleasant North, a Union Civil War veteran buried there.
Beginning in 2010, the park, with the cooperation and assistance of the Bell County Forestry Camp, began to recover and refurbish the historic cemetery that had been largely forgotten with the passage of time. The cemetery is believed originally established by pioneers traveling along the Wilderness Road during the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.
These first settlers camped in the bottom-land that is now Wasioto Winds Golf Course while preparing to cross the Cumberland River. They used the site for burial of those who died after passing through Cumberland Gap.
It’s also likely to have seen later use during the Civil War when Union and Confederate armies periodically camped in the same bottom-land, and final use as the Bell County Poor Farm cemetery. In all, well over 100 graves have been discovered at the site.
In 2011, a set of steps and landings were funded by donations from the Lions and Rotary Clubs of Pineville. These were installed to guide visitors up to the cemetery. Shortly thereafter, the park installed a cemetery name sign and an interpretive panel relating the history and significance of the site.
Recently, a Civil War era headstone, honoring North, was placed by the National Cemetery Administration’s Department of Veterans Affairs. A commemorative foot stone was donated by the Steele Family of Arnett & Steele Funeral Home.
On Saturday, the Honor Guard of Camp Nelson National Cemetery, also known as the Ghost Brigade, under the leadership of Col. Tracy Lucas, will conduct a Civil War era burial ceremony to include a horse-drawn caisson, artillery cannon, a riderless horse, and infantry soldiers.
For information about the park facilities, accommodations, programs, or special events, contact the park’s Guest Services Desk at (800) 325-1712.