For a fascinating stroll through history, head to the Riverside Cemetery, with 87 acres of rolling hills and flower gardens overlooking the French Broad River. Located near downtown Asheville, Riverside Cemetery dates to 1885. The City of Asheville adopted the cemetery in 1952. It is still an active cemetery with more than 13,000 people buried here, 9,000 monuments and 12 family mausoleums. Many of the monuments are truly works of art. Many of the graves in Riverside contain remains which were removed from other burial grounds and reinterred here. Once inside the large iron gates, you may take a self-guided walking tour through ancient oak, poplar, dogwood and ginkgo trees.
Riverside is the burial place of noted authors Thomas Wolfe and William Sidney Porter, better known as O. Henry. You can learn about Confederate generals James Martin, Robert B. Vance and Thomas Clingman. Some of the names recorded in Riverside Cemetery are those of the city's most prominent citizens: Jeter C. Pritchard, T. S. Morrison, Thomas Patton, and Zebulon B. Vance. Individuals of note interred at Riverside Cemetery include: Isacc Dickson, the first African American to be appointed to an Asheville City School Board; Quenn Carson, Asheville's first female public school principal; George Masa, a Japanese photographer who documented much of the Blue Ridge Mountains and was integral in the establishment of Great Smoky Mountains National Park; James H. Posey, a bodyguard to Abraham Lincoln; and the remains of 18 German sailors from WWI. Riverside Cemetery is maintained by the City of Asheville, Parks and Recreation Department and has been designated a Buncombe County Treasure Tree Preserve.
A self guided CD is available at the Chamber Visitors Center and a download tour of the cemetery is available at: www.history-at-hand.com. History-at-Hand also provides walking tours of Riverside Cemetery.
Riverside Cemetery is located at 53 Birch St. off Pearson Dr. within the Montford Area Historic District (near the Asheville Visitors Center) . Visitors are welcome 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. during daylight savings time, and until 6:00 p.m. the rest of the year. Self-guided tour packets are available at Riverside Cemetery office Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For information visit the City of Asheville's Parks and Recreation Department Riverside Web site or call 828-350-2066.