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Salt Lake City Cemetery Reopens After September Windstorm Cleanup

September's severe winds uprooted and damaged dozens of trees. Several graves were also damaged. (KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Salt Lake City’s historic cemetery reopened to the public for the first time since September’s wild windstorm blew down thousands of trees across the Salt Lake Valley.

Mendenhall led Monday’s celebration as the cemetery reopened to the public.

The storm brought hurricane-force winds of up to 100 mph when it hit Sept. 7.

The cemetery was one of the hardest-hit parts of Salt Lake City with 265 trees downed and dozens of headstones damaged.

“As soon as cemetery staff realized the extent of the damage on Sept. 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,” Mendenhall said.

Restoring the cemetery was a complicated process that started in December when the city commissioned an archeologist to document the damage to historic artifacts.

Another company came in to reposition headstones that falling trees knocked around and broke.

In the spring, crews replaced sod in 265 holes left behind by rootballs as the trees were yanked and twisted from the ground. Hundreds of other parts of the cemetery also needed new sod.

With the repairs finished, city leaders decided it was time to let the public return.

“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.”

Trees narrowly missed the headstones of three presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — John Taylor, Heber J. Grant and Gordon B. Hinckley.

A tree clipped the obelisk from the headstone of the legendary Porter Rockwell.

KSL 5 TV Live