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Rocks, Rails &  Ranches

History of the headstones: Rocklin Cemetery

GPS coordinates: (N 38° 46.962’, W 121° 14.035’)
By: Gary Day, special to the Placer Herald
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Rocklin History Tour

This is the 13th installment of a 19-part series in which Gary Day will take readers on a tour of Rocklin’s historic sites. You can find the sites yourself with a handy Rocklin History Tour booklet, available at the Rocklin History Museum, 3895 Rocklin Road. GPS coordinates were provided by Brian Ignaut. Short stories about Rocklin’s history are at www.rocklinhistory.org/history_series.asp.

The Rocklin Cemetery is at the corner of South Grove and Kannasto streets. Its origin is unknown, but tradition says that its first burial was in 1864, when a missing railroad worker was found dead after a day of inebriation and buried on the spot. Equally likely, however, is that it dates to the 1850s and was the burial ground for the Gold Rush-era community of Secret Ravine, which today is across Interstate 80 from the cemetery’s eastern border.

It was state-owned land until 1889, when the state granted the cemetery to the Masons and Oddfellows Lodge, but since 1929 it has been operated as one of a group of cemeteries controlled by a public district.

A kiosk near the entrance maps the burial locations of several people who were important in Rocklin’s history.

The several Irish interments reflect the dominance of Rocklin’s Irish culture from the early 1850s until about 1890. The several Finnish interments reflect the dominance of Rocklin’s Finnish culture and the Finns’ heavy involvement in Rocklin’s granite industry in the late 19th century and after.

Interments include meat broker Joseph Barudoni, who in 1905 built the all-granite Ba-rudoni Building on Front Street across from Old Saint Mary’s Chapel, and Marshal Sam Renaldi, who died in a gun battle with saloon owner U.S. Holmes in 1914. Renaldi was Rocklin’s first law enforcement officer to die performing his duties.