Cemetery Travel everywhere!

Flame-topped zinc urn, Bendle Cemetery, Flushing, Michigan

Flame-topped zinc urn, Bendle Cemetery, Flushing, Michigan

October is the time when people’s thoughts turn to cemeteries.  I’ve been chatting with anyone who will listen about why everyone should visit graveyards, whether on vacation or in their own hometowns.  I thought I would collect up all the links so you’d know I hadn’t been slacking when I wasn’t here blogging.

Last month, I chatted with Cheryl Eddy, a local journalist whose work I’ve read for over a decade at the San Francisco Bay Guardian (RIP). Our interview about traveling around to visit cemeteries and the book I edited called Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues went up on io9.com last Monday.  It’s called This is the Life of a Graveyard Tourist.

After a really fascinating email interview, I got quoted in Travel & Leisure’s list of the World’s Most Beautiful Cemeteries.  That story was picked up by Smithsonian.com, the Huffington Post, and several other newspapers around the world.

Last week, I had a great phone conversation with Kristi Palma from Boston.com.  That led to her quoting me in A Fun-Filled Day in the Cemetery? Absolutely!

My exhortation to “Take You Children to the Graveyard!” (published on Scoutie Girl) has been getting some nice attention.

My essay for the Horror Writers Association’s Halloween Haunt’s blog, about the graves of horror writers, which was spun off by something I wrote for Cemetery Travel last Halloween. This version was called Where Horror Lies.

The Frugal Travel Guy site name-checked Wish You Were Here in their story Walking Among the Dead: The Art of Cemetery Travel.

Last night I vanity googled myself and found a review of Wish You Were Here in Indonesian.

And finally, Gothic Beauty magazine reviewed — and really liked — Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel in their October issue.

It’s been a rich, full month.  I’m looking forward to things settling down now, so I can get down to working on Death’s Garden.


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This Weekend’s Bay Area Cemetery Tours

Last year’s Cloverdale Cemetery tour. Photo provided by the Cloverdale Historical Society.

It seems like every local cemetery is having a tour this weekend.  I’m going to hit as many as I can.  Hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 1, 10-11:30 am
Alhambra Cemetery
Carquinez Scenic Route
Martinez, California 94553
This is a free family event. Families are invited to celebrate the lives of local citizens buried at the Alhambra Pioneer Cemetery with a headstone hunt that incorporates math, history, and observation skills. Day of the Dead crafts will also be provided, including folding paper marigolds, creating banners, and coloring sugar skull pictures.
Please pre-register at (925) 372-3510 by October 31.

Saturday, November 1, 10 am – noon
Old St. Mary Cemetery
Gilroy, California
The next Historical Walking Tour features Old St. Mary Cemetery, the museum’s most popular tour. Among the graves are those of John Gilroy, Father Hudson, Jose Maria Amador, and Catherine O’Toole Murphy Dunne. Meet in front of the Serra Cottage, 7950 Church St. Reservations are appreciated by calling (408) 846-0446.

Saturday, November 1, 1:30 pm
Cypress Lawn Memorial Park
1370 El Camino Real
Colma, California 94014-3239
Phone: (650) 550-8810
Local cemetery historian Michael Svanevik will lead a walking tour of lovely Cypress Lawn.  Its title is “Northern California’s Fortune Builders.” The tour starts at the Noble Chapel (located on Cypress Lawn’s East Gardens).


Sunday, November 2, 11:30-3:30 pm
Hills of Eternity/Home of Peace Cemeteries
1299/1301 El Camino Boulevard
Colma, California 94014
Phone: (415) 750-7545
Buried Treasures: An ‘Underground History’ Walk — Come commemorate the 125th anniversary of Jewish cemeteries in Colma and honor those who planted the seeds of the Jewish community in the Bay Area. There will be a treasure hunt tour, an opportunity to watch the ritual burial of prayer books, and a chance to help preserve the pioneer headstones in the oldest part of the cemetery. Refreshments provided.

Sunday, November 2, 1 – 2:30 pm.
Riverside Cemetery
Crocker Road
Cloverdale, California 95425
Phone: (707) 894-2067

Meet Gravedigger Tom at the cemetery entrance on Crocker Road. The suggested donation is between $5 – $10 dollars per person. People should wear long pants and hiking/walking shoes. Due to loose gravel and walking up hills/around graves, we recommend that only those who are sure-footed join in. Gravedigger Tom will tell many fascinating stories regarding the cemetery, including some of the people who are buried there. He also is known to share ghost stories.

The Cloverdale Cemetery is located on the west side of the Russian River. From Cloverdale, take First Street east. The parking for the cemetery is on the left hand side before the river.

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Most Beautiful Cemeteries

The Aylsworth family monument

Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Rhode Island

I should start by saying I am thrilled to talk to anyone and everyone about cemeteries.  So I was especially excited when a writer for Travel & Leisure contacted me for a story she was writing about the World’s Most Beautiful Cemeteries.

The story is here: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/worlds-most-beautiful-cemeteries

Since it went up on the Travel & Leisure site, it’s been picked up by the Huffington Post, Smithsonian.com, and as far away as Perth.  Many of those lovely readers have found their way here, to Cemetery Travel.  Hello!

In the interest in full disclosure, I didn’t choose the Travel & Leisure list of Beautiful Cemeteries.  I didn’t even nominate any.  Lanee Lee did all that work herself!  I agree with her choices, especially with the inclusion of places I haven’t been yet, like the Okunoin Cemetery in Japan and the Tomb of the Poets in Iran.

Greenwood Cemetery, New Orleans

Greenwood Cemetery, New Orleans

If anything, there are cemeteries I would add to the list.  My impression is that Rookwood Cemetery is even more beautiful than Waverley Cemetery, but our Australia friends will have to confirm or deny that.  I think Gettysburg’s Soldiers National Cemetery is prettier than Fort Rosecrans, but it could be that I’m swayed by the weight of the history in Pennsylvania.  Every list of cemeteries should include one from New Orleans.  My vote would be for Metairie Cemetery, but a case could be made for Greenwood Cemetery.

Last October, I pulled together a short list of the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve visited.  It’s here:  http://cemeterytravel.com/2013/10/14/the-most-beautiful-cemeteries-on-cemetery-travel/

Rhoads_Cypress Lawn_1621

Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, California

My “most beautiful” list would probably change every day, as I learn more about cemeteries.  I can say that the prettiest cemetery I’ve been to this year is Rock Creek Cemetery, outside of Washington, DC, but the many moods of Cypress Lawn gives all the others a run for my money.


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More Cemetery Books for Sale

All but one of the initial list of cemetery books I posted last week have been spoken for, so I’ve pulled out some more books.  There may be still more to come, but for now, here’s the list of what I have for sale. I will also be listing some true crime/serial killer books on my other blog.  I’ll add the link here when those go up.

In the meantime, let me know (either in the comments below or through the Contact Me form above) if you are interested in any of these books or if you need more information.

I take paypal.



photoConsecrated Ground: Funerary Art of New Orleans
by Lisa L. Cook
Pixieco Press, 1998. HUGE hardcover (15” x 12”) collection of b/w photographs. This will cost extra to mail.


The Grave001The Grave
by Robert Blair
Spiral bound, letterpress printed by Cary G. Birdwell.
Just an unillustrated copy of this lovely, morbid poem.  The poem was first published in 1747.

Green-Wood 002Green-Wood 001The Green-Wood Cemetery
Walk #1: Battle Hill and Back
Walk #2: Valley & Sylvan Waters
by Jeffrey I. Richman
Published by The Green-Wood Cemetery, 2001. Spiral bound.  Two walking tours of the lovely garden cemetery.
$25 for both.

Abney Park001Guide to Abney Park Cemetery
by Paul Joyce
Essay, listing of interesting graves, some b/w photographs.
Rare, out-of-print. In good shape.
Second edition from 1994.

Arlington001Here Rests in Honored Glory: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery
By R. Conrad Stein
Weekly Reader Books, 1979.  Hardcover, in great shape. A kids’ book on the cemetery’s history.

Last Laugh001The Last Laugh: A Completely New Collection of Funny Old Epitaphs
by Gail Peterson
Published by Hallmark Editions.
Small hardcover with dust jacket. Jacket has small rips.

Mexican001The Mexican Day of the Dead
by Chloe Sayer
Shambala, 1990. Small paperback. Some dog-ears. Lots of color and b/w photographs.


Remember Me001Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death
by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
Collins, 2006. Trade paperback reading copy with dog-eared pages.



WishYouWereHere-cover-FINAL-600x900Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel
by Loren Rhoads
Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel contains 35 graveyard travel essays, which visit more than 50 cemeteries, churchyards, and gravesites across the globe. More info here.
Brand new. Trade paperback.

Cover of the Cemetery Travels Notebook

Cemetery Travels Notebook
by Loren Rhoads
The Cemetery Travels Notebook is the place to keep field notes from your own cemetery adventures. It features 80 lined pages, interspersed with 20 lush full-page color photographs of cemeteries from Paris to Tokyo, with stops at Sleepy Hollow, San Francisco, and all points between, to inspire your wanderlust.
Brand new. Trade paperback.



Dissection001Death, Dissection and the Destitute
by Ruth Richardson
Pelican, 1989. Trade paperback reading copy. This is the standard text on how the poor died and were treated after death.


Deadsville001Round-Trip to Deadsville: A Year in the Funeral Underground
by Tim Matson
Chelsea Green, 2000. Trade paperback reading copy with dog-eared pages.


Stories in Stone001Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography
Written and photographed by Douglas Keister
Gibbs-Smith, 2004. Brand new hardcover full of full-color photos. The standard text. All cemetery aficionados must have this.

Walk Thru Time001A Walk Through Time: A Historical Guide to Santa Cruz Memorial Park
IOOF Lodge 96, 2004. Saddle-stitched.  Brand new walking tour of the historic cemetery in Santa Cruz, California.


Beyond Sight001Beyond Sight Hidden World: The Cemetery in Infrared
by Terri Bertsche
Blurb, 2008. Hardcover. Like new. Very pretty infrared cemetery photos.

Mortal Remains001Mortal Remains: The History and Present State of the Victorian and Edwardian Cemetery
by Chris Brooks
Wheaton, 1989. Hardcover. B/w photos.


The American Way of Death
by Jessica Mitford
Simon & Schuster, 1963. 5th printing. Hardcover, no dust jacket.

In Memoriam: A PracticIn Memoriam001al Guide to Planning a Memorial Service
by Amanda Bennett and Terence B. Foley
Simon & Schuster, 1997. Trade paperback. Dog-eared pages.


Oregon001Mad as the Mist and Snow: Exploring Oregon Through its Cemeteries
by Johan Mathiesen
Ashland Creek Press, 2011. Trade paperback. A couple of dog-eared pages.

Midst of Winter001In the Midst of Winter: Selections from the Literature of Mourning
Edited by Mary Jane Moffat
Random House, 1982. Hardcover first edition.

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Cemetery Photography

Keister and assistant in Cypress Lawn

Keister and assistant in Cypress Lawn

I’m still sick with this stupid cold, but I managed to get out to Cypress Lawn yesterday to hear Douglas Keister talk about the tombs he’s visited in the Holy Land.  Oh, how I wish he already had a book about them!

Keister is the author of Going Out in Style: The Architecture of EternityStories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography, and Forever L.A.:  A Field Guide to Los Angeles Area Cemeteries and their Residents, as well as cemetery guides to New York, Paris, and the American South.  He thinks of himself as a photographer of architecture who is interested in the history of cemeteries.

After his lecture, Keister led three of us on a “photography adventure” of the cemetery as the sun set.  It was marvelous.  I’ve been taking cemetery photos for decades now, but my pictures are okay at best.  I just point my camera and hope for the best.

Cemetery muse with gold reflector

Cemetery muse with gold reflector

Keister showed us how to look.  Then he showed us how to light.  He allowed us to play with his reflectors, demonstrating the difference between silver and gold reflections.  Each of us got to take a turn holding the external flash and seeing how many different ways you could take the same photograph.

I wish I had my strength back, that I hadn’t been coughing too hard to hold the camera steady.  I didn’t take nearly enough photographs and I didn’t take any notes, but I learned so much that I am eager to take advantage of the next lovely autumn day and shoot yet more images.

There was talk that this photo safari will become an annual event. Keister is scheduled to come back to Cypress Lawn next October 18 (2015) to talk about “101 Tombs to Check Out Before You Do.”  With luck, he’ll lead another exploration around the cemetery in the twilight.  I’m already looking forward to it.

Sunset in Cypress Lawn

Sunset in Cypress Lawn

Links to Douglas Keister’s cemetery books on Amazon:

Forever Dixie: A Field Guide to Southern Cemeteries & Their Residents

Forever L.A: A Field Guide To Los Angeles Area Cemeteries & Their Residents

Going Out in Style: The Architecture of Eternity

Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography 

Stories in Stone New York: A Field Guide to New York City Area Cemeteries & Their Residents


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