Members of E Clampus Vitus, or Clampers, from across the West gathered in the Bayhorse Cemetery late last month to pay respects to the dead and their history.
“We had, oh, about 110 Clampers or so,” Larry Garey, who has been a Clamper for about a year, said.
Clampers presented a plaque honoring people buried in the ghost town’s cemetery. The plaque is designed to both recognize the site as historically important and promote it to potential visitors, Garey said.
Clampers plan to do some cosmetic work at the cemetery, such as building bridges and fences. It’s part of the organization’s plan to establish a satellite post in Custer County, Garey said.
Garey said the mission of the Clampers is to preserve mining history in the United States. The organization began when a bunch of California Gold Rush miners started pooling their money together. Mining was incredibly dangerous then, Garey said, so miners would chip in to support the wives and children of deceased co-workers. The men who came up with the impromptu life insurance were called Red Shirts, due to their clothing, and Garey said it’s become another proud nickname for the Clampers.