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Dorn Pyramid-San Luis Obispo Cemetery

Here is the last segment of my Halloween series of mysterious places around San Luis Obispo County. It is a story of love and loss as well as mystery.

Standing tall in the rear of San Luis Obispo Cemetery is a grand two story tall granite tomb Pyramid. One might wonder what is the story behind it? It was built in 1905 by the San Luis Obispo District Attorney Fred Adolphus Dorn.

Fred was the Master of San Luis Obispo Masonic Lodge, King David’s Lodge #209, as well as a member of the Native Sons of the Golden West and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He met County Supervisor Charles Jay Russel’s daughter Cora Russel. It is said that Cora was a very influential woman in town. They fell in love and married in 1890.

Fred and Cora happily welcomed their newborn son Fred Jr. in 1905. That joy suddenly ended in tragedy with their infant dying the same day. Cora died just a few days later from complications of childbirth. It was a tragic time in the Russel family where she, her child, mother, sister and father all died within a three year period of time.

Fred had granite brought in on specially made wagons from a quarry in Porterville. The tomb was put on top of a hill that was an outcropping of serpentine stone. It had to go on a solid surface otherwise it would have sunk into the ground from it’s sheer weight.

The dates of Cora & Fred Jr.’s , death and birth were carved on the side of the pyramid. Fred Sr.’s name and birthdate on there as well. He left the tomb unsealed in hopes of returning to his family in death.

Fred went away on a cruise where he met and fell in love with another women. Still being a young man himself, he married his new wife and they moved to the San Francisco area. Fred died in 1940 and his new family did not return his remains to the pyramid but interned his ashes in a cemetery in the Bay Area.

Here is the mysterious part of this story. One dark, rainy night legend had it that a Cadillac pulled up to the Cemetery where a man got out of the car with a box in his hand. He went inside the Dorn Pyramid and came out empty handed. People wonder if possibility some of Fred’s ashes made it back to Cora and Fred Jr.?

The Masonic Brothers made plans to have the tomb finally sealed in 2018. They had hopes of getting into the tomb to see if the mystery was true? It was impossible to get in without damaging the structure and they even tried to explore with small cameras but that was unsuccessful as well. It remains a mystery to this day.

This beautiful monument of love and loss is located in San Luis Obispo Cemetery at 2890 S. Higuera St. San Luis Obispo, Ca. 93401. Next time you are passing by, take a look. It is a sight to behold. Have a Happy Halloween!

Shannon Bowdey SLO Happy Homes Keller Williams Realty Central Coast (805) 458-5870 DRE # 01894857

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