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TRAILING HISTORY: Tombstone Trail closing for ’12 season

October 22, 2012

Columbia City’s South Park Cemetery is one of three cemeteries in Whitley County featured in the 2012 Tombstone Trail tour. The tour is in its third season and highlights grave sites of notable Hoosiers. The Columbia City leg of the tour is sponsored by the Whitley County Genealogical Society. Post & Mail photo / Christie Barkley

COLUMBIA CITY — Columbia City’s cemeteries have become a tourist attraction. Joining this year’s Tombstone Trail, three of the area’s cemeteries were added to the tour earlier this summer. Blue River Cemetery, Greenhill Cemetery and South Park Cemetery all made the list.
This is the third season for the tour which highlights historic figures’ tombstones. For Columbia City, the tour will close at the end of the month, and is sponsored by Whitley County Genealogical Society.
Although the tour season is coming to a close, there is still time to schedule a guided tour, which costs $5 per person, per cemetery.
Proceeds raised from the Tombstone Trail will go in part to historic cemetery conservation in the participating counties, and to continue to perpetuate the development of the trail.
New additions to this year’s tour include created codes at the grave sites, enhanced self-guided tours and a new website to help tell the stories spotlighted along the Tombstone Trail.
The Tombstone Trail had its beginnings in Noble County in October of 2010, and at that time included DeKalb County. Now the trail has expanded to over 85 miles, continuing to make its way toward Chicago.
Cemetery visitors will be able to choose from self-guided tours, or guided tours and will have the opportunity to learn about the lives of Hoosiers who had an impact locally, nationally and across the U.S.
John Bry, Executive Director of the Noble County Visitors Bureau said, “The tour offers something for everyone, and is designed to show that cemeteries are not to be feared, but rather interesting historic and cultural pieces of American History.”
With Halloween approaching, a visit to the cemetery seems to be fitting, but Bry said the cemetery tours are not designed to be scary, but rather a “fascinating and enlightened look at the cemeteries and their permanent residents.
In South Park Cemetery, the tombstone of Rudolph T. Helblig is featured. Helbig traveled across the world from Paris to marry and reside in Columbia City. Another Columbia City tombstone on the tour is at Blue River Cemetery. Roy “DeWitt” Prater, died a hero as a flight engineer on a helicopter in South Vietnam as he and his crew were shot down during a rescue.
Hayes Linvill and I.B. McDonald are two of the noteables on the tour at Greenhill Cemetery. Across the counties, 66 stories are highlighted.
More information on tours, and about the Tombstone Trail may be received from the Noble County
Group Tours will begin officially in September through October by reservation only on Fridays and Saturdays from 6-8 PM.
The self-guided tours are free of charge. More information can be found by calling 1-877-202-5761 or by visiting
To book a guided tour contact the Noble County Visitors Bureau at 1-877-202-5761, or locally call 260-599-0060.

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