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Bristow Boy Scout Renews Crosses At Small Route 66 Cemetery

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Scout Richard Dye made Poor Farm Cemetery is Eagle Scout project. Scout Richard Dye made Poor Farm Cemetery is Eagle Scout project.
The old wooden crosses marked a mostly forgotten cemetery. The old wooden crosses marked a mostly forgotten cemetery.
Now steel markers pay tribute to those buried along Highway 66. Now steel markers pay tribute to those buried along Highway 66.
BRISTOW, Oklahoma -

A Bristow Scout is responsible for bringing an old cemetery back to life. Poor Farm Cemetery is on a tiny section along the long stretch of highway that is Route 66.

For years it's been one of those "if you blink, you miss it" kind of spots.

"Not completely forgotten, but still for the most part overlooked, I'll put it that way," said Alex Rodriguez, a member of Bristow Knights of Columbus.

There's no sign marking its name, just 77 small white crosses lined perfectly in rows. They're shiny and new now, a far cry from the way 17-year-old Richard Dye found them over the summer.

"I decided to make it into something special," Dye said. "The whole cemetery, it was all cockeyed and out of line. I wanted to be respectful to the people that are buried here and make it look nice."

Richard didn't know anyone who was laid to rest in the Poor Farm Cemetery. Most who are buried here passed away decades ago, some as far back as 1930.

But that doesn't diminish that Richard wanted to resurrect the graveyard and its crumbling crosses.

"I was thinking, well 'maybe I could make it be an eye opener, not an eye sore,'" he said. 

The original crosses were built several years ago by a volunteer with the Bristow Knights of Columbus.

Alex Rodriguez was ready to clean up the crosses when he heard about Richard, who was looking for a project that would help him to achieve the Eagle Scout Award, the highest designation in Boy Scouts.

"Guys like Richard, you know, you wish there was a whole lot more Richard Dyes in this world," Rodriguez said.

The original plan was that Richard would just re-paint the old crosses, but plans change.

"I just decided to transform it to this, to how it is now," said Bristow Boy Scout Richard Dye.

The crosses that were here before were made of wood. They were deteriorating, the white paint had chipped away, but they've now been replaced with long-lasting crosses made of steel.

"It lasts for decades, even centuries and that wood would only last a couple years, if that," Dye said.

Stillwater Steel made and donated $2,000 worth of crosses. Sisk Sandblasting painted them for half price.

Then Richard, very strategically, spaced out the crosses and set them in concrete.

"I'm sure these things will be here long after we're gone," said Alex Rodriguez with the Knights of Columbus.

Standing strong, glistening in the sunset: 77 small white crosses - big symbols of those who are gone, but not forgotten.

"It catches your eye, so we're eternally grateful to Richard for that," Rodriguez said.

And also reminders of the good people still standing among us.

"It makes me feel proud," Rodriguez said.

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