The Yukon Cemetery is a graveyard for slaves and freed blacks in the woods between a trailer park and suburban subdivision and the present location of a place that has moved from two other places. It was last moved just before World War Two, when the federal government moved it off land it wanted for a military base. When Yukon moved to its present location, it disbanded the black community living there, and the slave cemetery was left for the forest to hide it and take it back.
Yukon, Florida is a part of Jacksonville, Florida, inasmuch as Jacksonville is a placeless conglomeration of places. (This paradox means that Jacksonville does not really exist, or that it exists in the in-between of all its places.) But Yukon is Yukon, Florida, its own entity, which means mostly a post office, a former mail drop-off along the railroad tracks. The Yukon Post Office has its own ZIP code, 32230.
The post office manager lived in the adjacent building, which shares the ZIP code of the surrounding area. When she was mad at the world, she said, she would hide by standing in the doorway between ZIP codes.
One side of 120th Street is known as Uptown Yukon and the other side is Downtown Yukon. There’s a tavern, a seafood restaurant, and a church. There used to be a town here. It was settled in the 1880s, but the federal government closed it in the 1960s, claiming it was unsafe for the town to live directly in the line of takeoff for the military jets from the base. They had their priorities. All the small houses soon disappeared.
Conspiracy theorists talk about Yukon, all the old roads grown over with weeds and blocked off with signs warning people not to enter property of the U.S. Government. They say a plane crashed in the area recently, but was never found. They say something’s in the water back there. They say “SOMETHING” was going on back there, mid-60s through the 80s, something that would explain the ever-present armed guards and patrols in the woods.
It’s said by people who know things that can’t be documented that when Roosevelt Boulevard, Interstate-17, was paved, a number of the graves of former slaves were paved over.
A.M. Reed’s Mulberry Grove Plantation was located on land that now holds the current military base. He deeded part of the property to his former slaves at the end of the Civil War. Many of the families who worked that farmland are buried in the Yukon Cemetery.
Now there are only shallow depressions in the ground to indicate the locations of many of the graves. When the wooden coffins decayed, the ground above them sank.
Supposedly A.M. Reed left treasure buried somewhere on his plantation. Nobody has ever found it. Supposedly a fallen piece of NASA satellite was recovered in Yukon. The Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist George Smoot was born in Yukon, Florida, before the federal government dismantled it. Several Internet directories call Yukon, Florida a ghost town located within Jacksonville, Florida.
Sometime in the early 2000s, the Yukon Post Office was decommissioned. No one seems to know precisely when it happened. The doors and windows are boarded up. The letters are falling off the building, so that the faded signage now says, “P Office.” With the building that had its own ZIP Code now abandoned, not only is Yukon a ghost town, but 32230 is a ghost ZIP Code.
The things that seem real are turned into dreams by things that seem real that are turned into dreams. The post office manager used to hide between ZIP codes, and the highway and the townhomes and the military base are all built on the real lives of slaves who became their own owners with the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1865.
Some kids from the trailer park had gone into the woods and were coming back with arm bones and skulls.