Bigelow Cemetery Prairie
State Nature Preserve
1/2 acre - Madison County
600 Rosedale Rd
Irwin, OH 43029
- Tall grass prairie remnant
- Royal catchfly and other wildflowers.
.5 mile trail
On September 13, 1978, Bigelow Cemetery was dedicated as an interpretive state nature preserve. A special management program for the preservation of the historic tombstones, perpetuation of the prairie species and elimination of noxious weeds was initiated following dedication by the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.
Bigelow Cemetery has never been plowed or grazed. It appears to be perched above the surrounding farm fields, a reflection of how much of the original prairie soil from these fields has been lost to wind and water erosion over the decades.
The cemetery still contains healthy colonies of prairie grasses and beautiful prairie wildflowers which once carpeted the Darby Plains. Some are considered rare, threatened or endangered in Ohio. For many years Bigelow Cemetery was the only known location in the state for the royal catchfly, the cemetery’s rarest plant. Other colonies have since been discovered elsewhere within the Darby Plains.
Because Bigelow was a pioneer cemetery many of the tombstones are in need of repair. As time and funds are available the division is repairing them. These tombstones often impart tragic stories: many children did not survive infancy; wives died young, often during childbirth; and epidemics sometimes claimed entire families.
But there are also gravestones of hardy individuals in their 60s, 70s and 80s, a remarkable testimonial to human survival at a time when adult life expectancy rarely exceeded 45-50 years. Summer-blooming prairie wildflowers are at their peak from late July through August.
Located 8 miles west of Plain City on State Route 161, the preseve is less than 1/2 mile south on the west side of Rosedale Rd. The site has pull-off parking. The preserve is owned by the Pike Township Trustees and managed by the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.