Recently I took a trip back up to Dixon and took advantage of the warmer weather to shoot a few more interesting sites before the cold winter moved in. One of these places was the cemetery for the old Dixon State hospital.
In 1918 the place first opened as the Illinois Colony for Epileptics, boasting 128 separate buildings, 400 acres for the living area and 1,100 acres of tillable farm land, the idea being that the colony would be self sustaining. Soon though it became apparent that a wider set of needs could be served here and in 1922 it was renamed the Dixon State hospital. To compliment this new title a women's school of nursing was opened there in 1927.
Fast forward to the 1970's-80's and times and attitudes had changed. No longer were the mentally challenged seen as someone to be locked away out of sight and the hospital was repurposed yet again becoming a prison in 1984. While that makes for interesting reading on its own it is what lies Outside the complex that caught my eye that day.
Every hospital and care facility has it's share of deaths and the Dixon state hospital was no exception. The first internment was in 1920 and the last was in 1979. During those 59 years a total of 2,189 souls were laid to rest. Some markers have names, some are so worn that you can only read the date of death and the patient number. If you love strolling thru old cemeteries this one will keep you busy for an hour or two.