Last week Mom was finally feeling up to an adventure day so we headed to Marion Cemetery in Marion, Ohio. You might think that a cemetery is a weird place to go for an adventure, but there were two things we specifically wanted to see at the Marion Cemetery. We wanted to see the mysterious, moving Merchant Ball and the impressive Harding Memorial.
The Marion Cemetery was established in 1857 as a place to bury the town’s prominent residents. And there must have been a lot of them, because the cemetery has some of the most over-the-top monuments I’ve ever seen. There were life-sized statues of people, pyramids, and obelisks. Some of the monuments are very tall and able to be seen from a distance. Even the less ostentatious headstones were impressive. One that caught my eye has several generations of the family listed and was as tall as I am.
The Merchant Ball is notable because it moves. It is a 5,200 pound sphere of Quincy Black Granite, polished all over except for one small section that was placed on the five foot pedestal. The monument was erected in 1896 when Mrs. Merchant died. Shortly after her death, the family noticed that the sphere had moved so that the small, unpolished circle was visible. The family had the sphere replaced and stuck it down with tar. But the sphere keeps moving. Sometimes the small circle moves as much as five inches in a year, but its usual rate of travel is about 1/4 inch per year. No one is entirely sure why it moves but it probably has something to do with freezing and thawing and ice getting under the ball. Much to our disappointment, it did not move while we were there.
After we found the Merchant Ball, we headed to the Harding Memorial, just across the street from the main part of the cemetery. President and Mrs. Warren G. Harding are buried in the memorial. President Harding grew up near Marion, bought and ran the Marion paper, and lived in Marion all his life except when he was in Washington DC. The circular memorial sits on top of a hill surrounded by trees. The two graves rest side by side in the middle of the memorial. There is a very nice kiosk that talks about President Harding’s life and the building of the memorial.
Today the Marion Cemetery is about 150 acres, giving you plenty of interesting pathways and monuments to see. The cemetery is surrounded by parks and memorials, giving Marion a wonderful large green space in the middle of the city.
We didn’t wander around much – we didn’t want to wear Mom out too much on her first adventure day. But we enjoyed exploring and exclaiming over what we saw.