In July of 2022, my boyfriend and I planned a trip up to the White Mountains to take a well-deserved vacation. On the way, I asked if we could stop off at Pinal Cemetery (not to be confused with Historic Pinal Cemetery, which I previously visited and covered in a different blog post!)
So, why stop off at Pinal Cemetery? Well, what other reason did I need other than the Bandit Queen of Arizona herself is buried there?
But before we visit Pearl Hart's final resting place, let me take you on a short tour. The cover photo for this blog post is from Find a Grave, but all other photos shown here were taken by me on my quick jaunt around the graveyard.
Pinal Cemetery first opened in Central Heights (a small suburb of the historic city of Globe) and was operated by a local mortuary, but once the Spanish Flu struck the fledgling state in 1918, Gila County took over the operation and management of the cemetery in order to provide more burial accommodations for the flu's many victims.
However, the county did not care for the cemetery long, and it soon fell into disrepair. According to Globe Miami Times, "The property is no longer listed on tax rolls, so taxpayer money can’t be used to cut down the weeds, water trees and repair fences. And there have never been any maintenance funds set aside – as is mandated by state law when a cemetery is owned by a mortuary – because no mortuary owns it, and the law does not apply to fraternal/beneficial organizations."
Several times a year, volunteers like local members of the Elks Lodge and Boy Scouts come to the cemetery to support some clean up efforts, but nothing concrete has been done for the abandoned cemetery in many decades.
It was too hot to stay long (probably around 95 degrees Fahrenheit that afternoon), but I did notice one thing that made Pinal Cemetery unique--at least from other cemeteries I have visited so far.
At Pinal, every grave, or at least every few graves, is surrounded by a concrete berm of some sort. Some of the graves have concrete covering the entire face as well as around the sides, while others have the concrete as siding with open dirt on top to provide a sort of flower bed in the desert. Why this cemetery is laid out this way I do not know, but it did provide a hint of uniqueness among the desert landscape.
The other surprising thing about the cemetery is just how large it is. From the front gate looking in, you would think the cemetery only encompasses an area directly in front of you. But once inside, you realize the graves actually cover a sprawling hillside. To your left are graves going up the hill, to your right is a concrete jungle going slightly downhill. Towards the center the graves are either in the dirt or have lots of gravel covering.
Now, if you're visiting Pinal Cemetery in order to find Pearl Hart, the prospect might seem daunting when you first walk through those gates. However, I'm here to help you, because I felt the same way!
The easiest way to find Pearl is to pull up her Find a Grave profile (linked here) on your mobile device once you reach the cemetery. If you click the link on her profile that says "Show Map" (next to the name of the cemetery) your mapping system will bring you fairly close to her grave. Just keep in mind that she has the image of a burro with a cowboy and a cactus carved on the headstone and you'll find her fairly quickly, this is what I did! The image on her headstone is unique to the cemetery (at least from the graves I saw) and so it is much easier to look for the design rather than her name, which is a little worn by now.
If you don't have good enough cell signal to get the map to load it'll be a bit harder but still doable if you have enough time (and if you visit in the heat of the summer, remember to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated!!! As someone who has lived in Arizona most of my life I cannot stress the importance of water and staying hydrated in our heat enough. Please please please be careful when venturing outside in our summers!).
To find Pearl, once again keep in mind that her grave has that image of a burro (or possibly horse?) with a cowboy and a saguaro cactus. If you walk straight in through the front gates, her grave is on the right hand side in the middle of the area I dubbed the "concrete jungle" in my mind. It took me a few minutes of circling, but I did eventually find her. She is fairly close to the grave with the metal cross I showed a photo of earlier in this article.
Tah dah!! After only a few minutes of searching I found her, and I'm sure if you are ever in the area and want to look for her to visit you will too.
Thank you for taking this virtual tour of Pinal Cemetery. To learn more about the cemetery click here. I don't know when I'll get out of town and able to visit another historic graveyard, but when I do I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures and mental notes to blog about here.
And remember, if you're exploring the great state of Arizona at any time, but especially in the summer, it does not matter what part of the state you're visiting, please pack plenty of water. We crack jokes about it being a "Dry Heat" around these parts, but that saying is very true. Stay hydrated, stay happy, and keep learning. Thanks for reading!