By John B. Green III
|The Weeping Arch, from Die Berner Woche, November 11, 1939.|
|The Weeping Arch, from Emma H. Powell, New Bern, North Carolina, 1905.|
|Cemetery wall and Weeping Arch, photo c. 1895.|
The gateway may always have wept "tears." In 1862, six years after the arch's completion, occupying Union soldier Hiram Alonso Worden noted in his diary "drops of water continually dropping" from the arch. For the rest of the 19th Century nearly every article or publication which mentioned Cedar Grove Cemetery described the Weeping Arch and its tears for the dead. Sometime in the 20th Century the legend took its more sinister turn with the tears dealing out death to whomever they struck. Generations of daredevils raced between the falling drops or pushed others beneath them. Occasionally, especially during dry spells, a little stagecraft might be employed. It is said that on the day before a large tour group was due to visit the cemetery, the fire department would be called out to thoroughly soak the triple arches, thus ensuring an ample supply of tears.
All this lachrymose activity may have come to a halt, though. Recent repairs to the Weeping Arch included capping the top of the arch and repointing some of the mortar joints. This has resulted in a distinct drying of the arch's tears. Whatever shall we do? Wait! What's that siren I hear approaching from the distance?