Mayfield, Kentucky’s cemetery contains a strangely sinister vision. Eighteen monuments – mostly human, although there is also a horse, two dogs, one deer, and a fox – gaze into the East, staring out across a field of nothing but the dead.
Commissioned by Colonel Henry G. Wooldridge and built over the course of seven years until Wooldridge’s own death on May 30, 1899, the monument commemorates family members and other loved ones Wooldridge lost over the course of his lifetime. After more than a century of visitation by a public fascinated by the spectacle, the site has acquired an unofficial, completely disconcerting name: “The Strange Procession Which Never Moves.”
Prompted by no one but his own aching heart, the man spent his last years pouring his fortune into immortalizing all that was irretrievably lost in stunning fashion. Unfortunately, this gesture was just as fundamentally lost on its earliest viewers, who mistook his monument as a literal money pit worthy of attempted plundering, rather than appreciating it for the gorgeously metaphoric treasure chest it simply is.
Populated with likenesses of those from Woolridge’s past, including a childhood sweetheart or his great-niece (depending on the lore), all of his sisters, his horse named “Fop,” plus his mother, brothers, as well as other creatures great and small who had been close to his heart. And while it may look like a small, very creepy private cemetery within the larger Maplewood Cemetery, Wooldridge is the only person actually entombed within the cordoned-off site.
Know Before You Go
To get into the cemetery, turn left from East James Street onto North 6th Street and you will pass through an arched entryway, the monuments are quite easy to spot on your left and you can exit at North 7th Street, but be cautious as it leads to a rather funky triangular intersection.