As we are fascinated with cemeteries, we have asked our blogger friends to share with us their finds around the world. This week we share their cemeteries in the USA.
Interesting and Unusual Cemeteries in the USA
Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans
Kathy from 50 Shades of Age
During a visit to New Orleans in the deep south of USA, a must see is one of their “above ground” cemeteries. We spent a few hours touring the somewhat spooky Lafayette Cemetery, the oldest of the seven cemeteries in New Orleans. Here the deceased are interred above ground, a situation forced on the area because of the city’s high water table and below sea-level elevation.
On first sight it is a little macabre seeing these family-built tombs capable of interring as many as a dozen deceased, jutting above ground like small marble or granite houses. We took a guided tour through the cemetery and learnt a lot about the interment process and the famous people that were interred here.
Llanos Cemetery, Truchas New Mexico
Billie from Santa Fe Travelers
We love Llanos Cemetery in Truchas, New Mexico on the High Road to Taos Scenic Byway. Like many cemeteries in Northern New Mexico, it’s a colorful place. Graves are adorned with plastic flowers, religious statues, wooden crosses, plastic toys and even pinwheels. One of our favorite memorials is this ghost bike commemorating its deceased rider. It sits close to the fence and can be viewed from the parking lot if you don’t want to walk among the graves. A bonus: great views of the Truchas Peaks to the east.
San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Cemetery, California
Carole from Berkeley And Beyond
Father Junipero Serra, who established the San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo mission in Carmel, California, in 1770, and indeed used it as his headquarters for managing the entire chain of California missions, is buried there at the foot of the altar. And close by, just off the quadrangle courtyard garden that features a peaceful fountain, is a cemetery where more than 3,000 mission Indians are buried. Though most graves are unmarked, some are decorated with abalone shells from this area.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans
Linda from Retired and Travelling
There are a lot of very old cemeteries in New Orleans but the oldest is the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. To protect the graves from rising waters, is a typical above ground crypt cemetery. If you take a tour of the cemetery you will walk back through time and learn about the history of New Orleans. A tour will provide you with stories about the renowned Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, show you the mass graves of soldiers or provide a glimpse of Nicolas Cage’s pyramid-shaped tomb. While much of the cemetery is crumbling, the history is still alive. (photo St Jude)
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, New York
Irene from More Time to Travel
Many people visit Sleepy Hollow, New York (Westchester County) to track down the ghost of Washington Irving’s Headless Horseman, said to haunt the Old Dutch Cemetery (built circa 1685). However, If you don’t believe in ghosts, you can see the famous author’s actual tombstone in his family burial plot in adjacent Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Tourists come from all over the world to pay their respects to the man who is said to have been the first American author to support himself professionally as a writer.
Reformed Dutch Church of Tappan Cemetery Tappan, New York
Chrysta from Well Worn Suitcase
Dating back to the late 1600s, the Reformed Dutch Church of Tappan Cemetery in Tappan, New York is a peaceful trip back in time, filled with the stories of the local area.
Tappan is a small town located 12 miles north of New York City, in Rockland County. The community was settled by 16 families in 1686, and is home to a beautiful historic district and cemetery.
Many of the headstones are in Dutch, others have grown difficult to read with time. Original settlers of Rockland County, early ministers of the Reformed Dutch Church of Tappan, and American Revolutionary War Soldiers can all be found buried here. More than a few Colonial soldiers killed nearby are buried in unmarked graves. Researchers say the oldest grave here is dated 1724.
Find more photos of the historic stones here.
Laurel Hill Cemetery Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sarah Ricks from Traveling Mom
Laurel Hill Cemetery is perched on a Philadelphia hillside overlooking the Schuylkill River. From the 78-acre cemetery, the panoramic view of the winding river lined with trees helps you imagine what the area might have looked like to early settlers.
Laurel Hill feels almost like a sculpture garden with a view. As you walk the garden paths, you see graves marked with stone angels balancing on columns, and mausoleums that look like tiny houses. Although Laurel Hill commands respect, it is also a lively place, filled with walkers, photographers, and picnickers. Entrance is free.
Charleston Cemetery, South Carolina
Christianna from Expecto Adventures
I was introduced to this cemetery during a walking tour of Charleston, SC.
It is supposedly haunted (of course) by the ghost of Annabel Lee, the woman in Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem. The cemetery is completely overgrown, with tombstones dating back 200+ years.
There is an eerie, surreal vibe here – despite being located downtown, all sounds are blocked (out and you are left alone with your own thoughts and a strange feeling of being watched…
Woodlawn Cemetery, New York
Irene from More Time to Travel
The flowering trees and landscaping at Woodlawn Cemetery in the north Bronx (one of the boroughs of New York City) are so magnificent that the grounds are often called an oasis in the city. This sprawling 150-year-old urban cemetery houses 1300 mausoleums and 300,000 graves.
However, one of the most remarkable intersections on the 400-acre campus is unofficially called Jazz Corner. Here, in the southwest portion of the cemetery, some of America’s greatest jazz musicians (including Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis and Max Roach) have reunited for what you might think of as their last jam
Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio
Noel from Travel Photo Discovery
Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland Ohio is one of the oldest cemeteries in the country founded in 1869. With over 285 acres of stunning gardens, vistas, and historic memorials, the cemetery is a tourist destination worth visiting when you are in Cleveland. Major attractions include the Garfield memorial, the Wade chapel completely with Tiffany details and the John D Rockerfeller monument.
Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia
Julie from Fun in Fairfax Va
Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place of over 320,000 men and women who honorably served the United States, from the Civil War to recent conflicts. It’s a special place, solemn and heart-breaking, but beautiful and inspiring too. Buses are available, but a long walk through the cemetery is the best way to visit and honor the dead. Historic stops include the Tomb of the Unknown, the John F. Kennedy gravesite, and Arlington House, where a vault holds 1,800 casualties of the first major battle of the U.S. Civil War. Most profound are the rows upon rows of the graves of fallen heroes.
Graceland Cemetery, Chicago
Thomas from Archaeology Travel
Architecture inspired by our different pasts can be found everywhere, and cemeteries usually provide good pickings. Ancient Egyptian architecture and iconography associated with death and the afterlife is commonly used to decorate memorials to the dead. When visiting Chicago I had heard there was a tomb in the shape of a pyramid. I couldn’t resist. Graceland Cemetery was once the final resting place for Chicago’s rich and famous. People with money to build some of the most elaborate Neoclassical tombs. But my favourite was indeed the pyramid. The entrance has an angel and an ancient Egyptian sphinx – it seems this family were hedging their bets.
Como Cemetery, Colorado
Billie from Santa Fe Travelers
We wouldn’t have found the small out-of the-way cemetery in Como, Colorado if we hadn’t been chatting with a local. “You have to go to the cemetery and find Daisy Stark’s grave,” she told us. She refused to say more. Intrigued, we set off on our quest. We had to backtrack a bit to find the dirt road that led to the lushly overgrown burial ground. The graves were spread out in a grove of aspen trees. We searched a while before we found Daisy’s headstone, off to the right. It was worth it! We still wonder about this young girl who was dead at age 13. What was her story? We still don’t know why we were sent to search this out but glad we discovered this peaceful spot.
Key West Cemetery, Florida
Chris from One Weird Globe
Founded in 1847 on the highest natural elevation in Key West (which at about 18 feet, or about 5 meters, isn’t much), about 75,000 people are buried at Key West Cemetery. Since you probably don’t have all day to spend here, see this excellent map highlighting dozens of the more unique characters and their role in the area’s history. Other residents weren’t as notorious in life, but left a message for people to appreciate in their hereafter.
Two of the more famous ones include “I told you I was sick” (Pearl Roberts), and “Good Citizen for 65 of his 108 years” (Thomas Romer). The double entendres found elsewhere are worthy of exploring beyond the map: “His beautiful little spirit was a challenge to love” (Sunny Otto, a Yorkshire terrier), “I’m Just Resting My Eyes” (Gloria M. Russell), and ‘Asleep in Jeasus” [sic] (Robert H. Smith). The more you wander, the more you’ll come across.
You can get more information at Friends of the Key West Cemetery Caution: Watch out for parking near the cemetery, as spots are intended for residents only. Your best bet is to park closer to Key West’s attractions, or in the private lot across from The Gardens hotel near Angela and Simonton, then approach the cemetery on foot.
Cave Hill Cemetery Louisville, Kentucky
Lia from Practical Wanderlust
Cave Hill is a gorgeous and enormous – I mean really enormous – cemetery in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. How enormous is Cave Hill? Put it this way: you can spend 20 minutes driving through Louisville and still be driving the perimeter of Cave Hill. Inside Cave Hill is a cave (of course) and a lake. And, as with any good cemetery, a lot of stories and history. There are several famous Kentuckians buried in Cave Hill, such as Colonel Sanders (yes, the guy on KFC chicken buckets) and Muhammad Ali. For those looking to immerse themselves in history, you have a few options for themed historic walking tours through Cave Hill. We often find ourselves walking or driving through Cave Hill just because it’s gorgeous and peaceful. To learn more about tours in Cave Hill cemetery – especially around Halloween time, when lurking around cemeteries seems an appropriate thing to do – check out my local’s guide to visiting Louisville in the fall!
If you have more to add to our list please get in touch.