Spadra CemeteryOct 16th, 2015 | By Lindsay | Category: This and That
Finding the words “ghost town” used to describe a cemetery is likely to cause my head to start spinning. Which is exactly what happened while I was doing some research on abandoned locales for an upcoming Discover Los Angeles post. I happened to come across an article on the Avoiding Regret blog about a forgotten, dilapidated old graveyard in Pomona named Spadra Cemetery and my eyes practically bugged out of my head. The photographs displayed showed an overgrown, crumbling site marked by toppled, cracked tombstones. I was instantly intrigued. An abandoned cemetery? Count me in! I knew the place would be perfect for my Haunted Hollywood postings, so I ran right out to stalk it shortly thereafter.
Prior to reading about the cemetery, I had never heard of Spadra. The now defunct small town came to be thanks to a stagecoach line established in 1859 that ran from San Francisco to Memphis via Los Angeles. Several stations were constructed along the route, one of which was in the area that came to be known as Spadra. In 1864, a wealthy rancher named Louis Phillips purchased a 12,000-acre portion of land that included the station, with the intention of breaking it up and selling it off. One of the first to purchase a parcel was a colorful character named Billy Rubottom, aka “Uncle Billy.” Not only was Rubottom wanted in Arkansas on two separate murder charges, but he had also killed his son-in-law in El Monte.
The enterprising Rubottom built a hotel and bar on his new land in 1866. It was not long before stores, warehouses, a post office and a school sprung up around it. Rubottom dubbed the fledgling community “Spadra,” in honor of his hometown of Spadra, Arkansas. It doesn’t sound like it was a great place to reside. According to a post on The David Allen Blog, a Historical Society of the Pomona Valley booklet describes the town as such: “The village of Spadra was characterized by murder, suicide and mysterious deaths.” Not surprising considering its founder.
The 2.5-acre Spadra Cemetery was established in 1868 on land donated to the town by Louis Phillips.
Spadra continued to thrive and in 1874 the Southern Pacific Railroad extended their line to the town. While that caused a boost in popularity, it was short-lived. The following year, the line was again extended about thirty miles farther east to Colton and Spadra became an all but forgotten stop along the route. As the neighboring town of Pomona began to grow and boom, thanks in large part to the fact that the area had a water supply, the population of Spadra dwindled. The establishment of a mental hospital in the area in 1927 and a landfill in 1957 further drove people away. The town was finally acquired by Pomona in 1964. The last burial at Spadra Cemetery took place in 1971 and four years later the site was deeded to the Historical Society. You can read a more in-depth account of Spadra’s history here.
Today, Spadra Cemetery, which boasts 212 graves (that’s the official number, at least), is almost completely hidden from view and extremely hard to find. Situated underneath State Route 57, the site shares a driveway with a company named Altec Southern California Service Rentals, which bars it from sight. (A Google Street View image of the shared driveway is pictured below.) We actually drove past the entrance twice before stopping to ask a local resident for directions. Upon finally finding it, I was a bit disheartened to discover that no part of the property is visible from the street.
The graveyard itself is located about 500 feet south of a locked gate and can only be reached via an open field to the west of it. And no, the Grim Cheaper and I did not venture over past the gate. The cemetery is on private land and I am not one for trespassing. But man, do I wish I could have seen it because the images I found of it online are haunting. There is good news, though! The Historical Society does sometimes offer tours of the cemetery. One such tour takes place annually on Halloween night. I honestly cannot think of a better place to spend the holiday!
I was thrilled to discover while researching this post that the entrance gate is also a horror movie location! In a case of art imitating life, the gate stands at the entrance to the abandoned funeral home and cemetery that the Doyle family – Jonathan (Dan Byrd), Leslie (Denise Crosby) and Jamie (Stephanie Patton) – purchases in 2005’s The Mortuary.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Spadra Cemetery is located at 2850 Pomona Boulevard in Pomona. As I mentioned, it can be hard to find. The entrance, which shares a driveway with Altec Southern California Service Rentals at 2882 Pomona Boulevard, is situated about 100 feet east of the 57 Freeway. The actual graveyard is located about 500 feet south of the entrance gate, across a set of railroad tracks. Pleased by advised that the cemetery is private property and venturing onto its grounds is trespassing. There are legal ways to see it via the Historical Society of the Pomona Valley. You can contact them regarding tours here.