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Eagle Cliff Cemetery and the Miles Mausoleum

Update: I went back and revisited the cemetery and mausoleum in July of 2020.

The oft-vandalized Miles Mausoleum, southwest of Columbia, Illinois, has recently been cleaned, and security cameras have been installed to ward off future desecration of the tomb.  Sadly, all of the remains have been removed, as it was no longer safe to inter them there.

The mausoleum is built into the side of the hill, high above the river bottoms of the Mississippi.  I find the Ionic capitals interesting; they are corner versions of the ancient Greek order, despite being on the side of the facade.  Only one is still fully intact.

The non-profit who maintains the cemetery is working to fix the erosion and deterioration of the cemetery.

Elsewhere in the cemetery are a coterie of interesting grave stones, including numerous examples of the ubiquitous willow tree, which can be seen in my own ancestors’ graves in Central Illinois.

The first burial was in 1806, and the last one in 1978; the mausoleum was built in 1858.

The broken column, visible in front of the mourning woman below, can in relief sculpture and in actual monuments represent a life cut short in its prime.

2 Comments

  1. I love going to Miles/Eagle Cliff Cemetery. There are headstones there for American Revolution, War of 1812, and the Civil War veterans as well as many others. There are about 480 known graves there, but it is believed there could be as many as a thousand in all.

    Miles Mausoleum was built to hold 56 members of the Miles family, but sadly only 11 were ever interred there, as the family suffered bankruptcy after the senior Miles passed. It was supposed to have cost a fortune to build, as the mausoleum was built from imported Italian marble shipped up the river from New Orleans. The mausoleum was totally vandalized through the years- including the vaults inside. Coffins were opened, jewelry stolen and remains were scattered and desecrated. It is a very disturbing thought that people would do this, but I guess they did. I remember reading that sometime in the 80s a group came in and cleaned out the mausoleum, removing the few remains that were left. I think they may have been connected to SIU-Carbondale.

    I am really happy the group who takes care of the cemetery was finally able to clean the graffiti off the mausoleum and to add cameras. Looks like they have also re-built the side walls and added a plaque as well! Maybe it will all keep vandals at bay. Can’t wait to visit it again, maybe this spring.

  2. Back in college at SLU from 81-84, me and my friends would go there once in a while. At that point it looked like it had been abandoned years perhaps even decades before we discovered it. The view was awesome. I would be an inspiring “resting place” and it takes a lot to impress me.

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