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Cremation Facts & History

Cremation in the United States

Cremation has been in existence in the United States since the late 19th century. The first crematory was built in Washington, PA in 1876. A few years later, in 1884, another crematory opened in Lancaster PA. The practice of cremation was supported by the clergy of the Protestant religion as they saw a need to reform burial practices. Medical professionals of the day also encouraged cremation because they were concerned about health conditions in early cecremationmeteries.

Today, cremation is widely accepted for the disposition of human remains. In fact, almost half the population in the United States chooses cremation as an option. Over the last decade, cremation has experienced an increase in popularity, particularly with the aging of the baby boomer generation. Nevada leads the nation with the highest percentage of those choosing cremation, coming in at 72 percent. Other states with high percentages include Washington, Hawaii, Oregon, Montana, Arizona, Maine, and Colorado. States on the West Coast rank highest in cremations per death. The Southern Atlantic states are on the other end of the spectrum.

Interesting Facts About Cremation

Even as it becomes more accepted, most people are not familiar with the cremation process. Here are some interesting facts about cremation that you may not know about:

  • As we mentioned, the first U.S. crematory emerged in 1876. By 1920, there were only 20 working crematories in our country. Today, there are nearly 2,000.
  • Modern cremation does not actually involve flames. It is the intense heat that reduces the body to what are commonly known as cremains.
  • The initial state of cremains does not look like the “ashes” that people ultimately place in urns or scatter at sea or other chosen location. The final processor, called a cremator, presses the bone fragments into a fine powder.
  • There are certain foreign objects, if you will, that some people have implanted in their bodies that must be removed before cremation. These include pacemakers with lithium batteries, as well as silicone breast implants.

The decision to choose cremation can be a very personal one. People make the choice to be cremated or have a ground burial based on several factors, including tradition, religious beliefs, and cost.

At Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery, we have our own on-site crematory to serve you if you decide that cremation is the best choice for you or your loved one. For more information, call us at (480) 832-2850.


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