Tricia Booker Photography

March 20, 2011

Ovoka Cemetery

I drive by Ovoka Mountain nearly ever day. It rises up from the Crooked Run Valley on the south side of Route 50 as I head down Ashby Gap from Paris to Middleburg. I’ve always admired the view and understand why people often stop their cars on the median to take photos of the vista.

I’ll have even more to appreciate now after hiking Piedmont Environmental Council’s private trail on 540 acres. Near the top of the mountain lies this small cemetery, with a beautiful stone wall surrounding a small plot. The Thomas family owned the 1,200-acre Ovoka property prior to 2001, when it was purchased by PEC to protect it from future development. The property was then split into five parcels, all under conservation easement, and four were sold (one to the National Park Service).

While standing next to the cemetery, about 2,000 feet above the valley, you can gaze across the piedmont to the south and east for hundreds of miles. It’s no wonder the Thomas family has retained this cemetery; I imagine such a view could be a glimpse of heaven on earth.

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