Portland's Historic Natural Treasure: River View Cemetery
In 1879, a visionary group of Portland families purchased 300 acres on the west side of the Willamette River to create a "garden cemetery" to offer refuge from the bustle of dense city life.
When River View opened in 1882, it was one of a select group of North American rural landscape cemeteries following the example of Mount Auburn near Boston. River View and other similar cemeteries served as early urban parks, providing a place for picnics and walks.
Unlike other cemeteries, River View was incorporated as a non-profit, endowment-care cemetery mutually owned by all who purchase a plot. Since 1882, River View Cemetery has been managed by a volunteer Board of Trustees, all of whom have a family heritage connection to River View.
Upholding the founders' vision, River View remains a popular destination for community members who seek the solace of its green spaces, stunning views of Mount Hood, and nearly 70 forested acres of deep ravines and year-round streams. Resident bald eagles and deer are a frequent sight alongside 23 species of mammals, amphibians, and birds. While dogs are not allowed, River View is a favorite place for walkers and bicycle commuters (on designated routes).
Since its inception, River View has been innovative. Its grand curvilinear roadways, pockets of gardens, and distinctive majestic trees give the cemetery and arboretum-like feel. In the 1940s, world-renowned architect Pietro Belluschi designed the Adams Chapel in River View's mausoleum, and the Trustees added an onsite crematorium. A funeral home was established in 2004 to provide service to Portland families.
With its history of progressive cemetery management and ongoing environmental stewardship with West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, River View is a leader in responding to consumer demand for more environmentally-friendly funeral and burial options.
Nearly a third of River View's burial clients chose natural burial. Others select Aqua Cremation, an environmentally-friendly alternative to flame cremation and conventional burial. Known as alkaline hydrolysis, this flameless process uses a combination of water flow, temperature, and alkalinity to accelerate disposition, similar to natural burial.
Within the next two years, "The Meadow" at River View will open as a new dedicated natural burial area, with native plants and natural memorial marker options. Eventually, River View will host forested natural burial within its 25 undeveloped acres. A portion of every natural burial cemetery purchase helps to maintain the health of the creeks and forest habitat in the beautiful canyons that run through the property.
300 South Taylors Ferry Road
Portland, OR 97219