Located a little over a mile west of Wauneta, Riverside Cemetery is situated between Highway 6 and the Frenchman River. The tranquil setting was established as a cemetery in the 1890s and today is owned and maintained by the Village of Wauneta. Riverside Cemetery can be reached by a hard surface road directly off Highway 6 or along the gravel “River Road” that heads west out of Wauneta via West Wichita Street.
Ongoing improvements over the decades offer conveniences to match the picturesque setting. Water taps are available across the cemetery and a shaded brick directory makes it easy for visitors to find gravesites. A series of monument stones pay tributes to area veterans. Five of those large monument stones list the names of hundreds of veterans with ties to the Wauneta area, a testament to the service to country of these former members of the Armed Forces.
A stone archway entrance to the cemetery was completed in 1938. It was built during the Great Depression as a Work Progress Administration project, providing employment to local men. The ornate wrought iron gates adorning the archway were added in 1994. They were designed and built by Joe Starnes of Denver, Colo., in memory of the late Charlie and Clara McBride.
A white vinyl, all-weather fence was installed along the west side of the cemetery in 2000 as a Veterans of Foreign Wars project, in conjunction with the brick directory building which was an American Legion project. Funding for the directory was made possible in large part by Ann Rowley in memory of her husband, Cecil “Bud” Rowley, son Russell Rowley, and daughter Patty Rowley. Additional funds were provided by the Frenchman Valley Development Corporation and American Legion Post 304. Fundraising efforts for the fence project were spearheaded by the late Charles Hanna, who helped generate $6,000 in contributions from community members.
In addition to providing information about the specific location of gravesites within the cemetery, the brick directory building also displays information about the history of the cemetery as well as the locations of rural cemeteries in the area surrounding Wauneta and the names of those buried at those cemeteries. Information can be found for the following cemeteries: St. Paul Lutheran, Mt. Zion, Ough, Eden, Ash Grove, Elmer/Antelope, St. John Catholic, and others.
Riverside Cemetery has been enlarged at least twice since the original 4.88 acres of ground were purchased from R.H. Williams by the Riverside Cemetery Association in 1894 for $100. The first expansion was in 1939, with the layout extended again in 1952. Today, the cemetery now encompasses 14.45 acres.
One of the cemetery’s most notable features are the stately evergreen trees that provide shade and break the wind. The late C.E. Johnston, a longtime Wauneta businessman and mortician, is credited with taking on a leadership role in beautifying Riverside Cemetery in the early 1900s and onward.