At the Foot of the Trail
by: Eric Miller
Cemeteries are the last place people would think to spend a vacation.
Still, the numbers of tourists visiting cemeteries and searching for the
graves of interesting people and stories continues to grow every year.
And they're visiting cemeteries for other reasons too.
- Concerts in a Bronx, New York cemetery draw thousands of jazz fans
to hear the sounds of Duke Ellington and Miles Davis.
- Visitors to Mount
Auburn Cemetery in Boston rent an audio cassette guide of the grounds
and wander through the past at their leisure.
- Lawyers and Congressional
aides regularly meet for coffee in Washington's Congressional Cemetery.
- And last year more than 5,000 people toured Cleveland's Lake View Cemetery
stopping by the graves of Elliot Ness, John Rockefeller and President James
The Cemetery Trail is about sharing some of the stories preserved
in cemeteries around America. There's more than enough about what we might think of as ordinary
cemeteries to make them a stop for tombstone tourists.
- A cemetery in Gallitzin, Pennsylvania is filled mainly with children who
perhaps died in an epidemic.
- One Pittsburgh cemetery contains the grave of a
famous gambler and people visit to place lottery tickets on the grave
several times a year.
- At lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio people visit
John Rockefeller's grave daily and leave behind dimes. Rockefeller had
become known by his habit of giving dimes to children.
- And a visit to a
Harmonite cemetery will seem curious, as the religion forbade the use of
Some cemeteries have been surrounded by commercial development and are
unable to provide the security and maintenance necessary to ward off vandals
who steal stained glass, urns and figurines and sell them to restaurants and
gardeners, unaware of, or ignorant to their origins.
Please join us over the next few months as we make our way along The Cemetery Trail.
Return to the Cemetery Trail home page
Eric Miller writes frequently on urban issues and lives in San Francisco. He
is the webmaster of http://home.earthlink.net/~urbancentury and is a partner
in the soon to launch New Colonist (newcolonist.com), a web publication for
urban residents. His articles have appeared in San Francisco Downtown, The
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and other publications. He can be reached by
e-mail at email@example.com.