Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City announces public reopening of City Cemetery following September 2020 windstorm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake City Cemetery has officially reopened to the public following last fall’s windstorm, Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced Monday.

On Sept. 7 and 8, 2020, a powerful windstorm tore its way through the Salt Lake Valley. Gusts of up to 112 miles per hour toppled and damaged more than 3,000 City-owned trees as well as thousands of privately-owned trees. 

“Limbs and branches were down citywide, but no single location was hit harder than the cemetery. The Salt Lake City Cemetery lost 265 trees,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “As soon as cemetery staff realized the extent of the damage on September 8, the grounds closed to the public as a safety precaution and to make sure the hundreds of historic headstones and other monuments were not further disturbed.”

The cemetery has remained closed since then, with the exception of prearranged burial services.

In December of 2020, the City hired an archeologist to help document the storm’s impacts on the damaged historical artifacts. A monument company was also hired to reposition many of the headstones that had been displaced in the storm. This spring, the City worked with a contractor to landscape and place sod on 700 locations that included 265 large holes left by tree root balls and more than 400 grave locations. 

Many neighboring cities and other agencies stepped in to support Salt Lake City with cleanup efforts. Specific organizations that helped with Cemetery cleanup efforts include: South Jordan City, Payson City, Summit County, Spanish Fork, Herriman City, Bluffdale City, and the Utah Department of Natural Resources. 

City leadership determined that the property can now safely be reopened. All stumps and root balls have been removed. Sod has been planted and irrigation repairs are complete.

“Reopening the Cemetery is an important step toward the City’s goal of achieving an official arboretum designation for the Salt Lake City Cemetery,” Mendenhall said. “This fall, the city will be planning an arboretum unveiling that will include a memorial for long-time Cemetery Sexton Mark Smith, who passed away in 2019.”

Salt Lake City is extremely thankful for the support of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Friends of the Salt Lake City Cemetery Group, and many other key partners who helped make today’s Cemetery reopening a possibility.


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