During a break in the infection rates of the pandemic in the late spring of 2021, I was able to get to Montana and spend a bit over a week considering historic cemeteries in places large and small. Many of these towns I had visited multiple times, such as Ryegate, the seat of Golden Valley County along U.S. Highway 12. A town that developed along the mainline of the Milwaukee Road about 115 years ago, Ryegate is a small town, population 223 in 2020, nestled between the railroad tracks, highway, and the bluffs of the Musselshell River.
The cemetery is located on a rising set of hills as you travel south on Montana 238, perhaps a mile or so south of the railroad tracks. A white picket fence marks it and a metal gate allows access.
There are no grave markers that are large and pretentious, a reflection of the hard life but solid values of a rural community of ranchers and homesteaders. With markers covering every decade of the twentieth century, the cemetery is an understated but telling marker of community continuity, faith, and pride.