Bellefontaine Cemetery

Forestry Commissioner Skip Kincaid points out the insecticide injections given to a tree in north St. Louis.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

On a residential street in the Central West End neighborhood, a worker wearing a hard hat and a safety vest used a chainsaw to cut the branches off of an ash tree. The tree and the ones next to it were marked for removal because the emerald ash borer, an invasive species, has come to St. Louis.

The Asian beetle has decimated ash trees across the country since the early 2000s, particularly in the Midwest and the Northeast. In recent years, the emerald ash borer has spread to 28 counties in Missouri, most recently to Franklin County.

Students from Jennings High School came to a bat survey at the Bellefontaine Cemetery on Sept. 12, 2016, to learn how to track bats using scientific equipment.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

The cemetery is an odd place to be at night. But for scientists who study bats, it's an opportunity to observe wildlife in an urban habitat. 

Last week, scientists and volunteers from the Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis gathered at the Bellefontaine Cemetery to conduct a bat survey. The study continues the work some researchers started in 2014, when they looked for bats in a different section of the cemetery in a larger effort to catalog biodiversity there.

Sculpture by George Julian Zolnay was commissioned by Gov. David Francis in memory of his wife, Jane, who died in 1924.

Bellefontaine Cemetery is magnificent in all seasons. But this vast and celebrated necropolis on West Florissant Avenue in north St. Louis seems most rewarding in autumn. At this season now upon us, nature surrenders some of its vitality: leaves fall; grass turns brown; days go dark earlier. Time and the weather and changing colors poetically find common cause with the cycle of existence.

In collaboration with the cemetery, we are reminded by autumnal transformations that death is an aspect, however heartbreaking, of life; and that since ancient times, the fundamental business of the cemetery is to be maintained as hallowed ground as a city of the dead.

I've visited St. Louis' Bellefontaine cemetery before, but never at night.

It's really dark. The looming trees are black against the sky, where a half-moon is just barely visible behind some clouds.

I can see eerie lights and strange, shadowy figures moving among the gravestones.

(courtesy Photo Flood Saint Louis)

Photo Flood Saint Louis describes themselves as a "a collective of photographers, living in the area, who occasionally invade parts of town to record it in a surge of imagery" and "create a photographic map of St. Louis" in the process.

St. Louis Public Radio has partnered with Photo Flood to celebrate our area through these "surges," and show you the work resulting from each.

Today's blog post showcases the second meeting of the collective and their flood of Bellefontaine Cemetery.