Category Archives: Cemetery blogs

Happy Birthday, Cemetery Travel!

I began this blog in February 2011, which blows my mind: 11 years, more than 600 posts, over half a million views ago.

In February 2011, I had already published 3 books: an anthology of political essays about North America at the end of the 20th century, an anthology of cemetery essays, and Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues, an anthology of essays drawn from my 10 years of editing Morbid Curiosity magazine.

For the better part of six years, I’d also written a monthly column about visiting cemeteries for Gothic.Net. By 2011, I’d put together the manuscript that would become Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel and my agent was looking for a home for it. We were hobbled, though, because my agent couldn’t quite grasp why anyone would want to visit a cemetery.

While I was trying to persuade her — and waiting for a publisher to say yes — I decided to start this blog. Amazingly enough, no one had snatched up yet, so the domain was mine for a song. I learned WordPress, set up a website, and wrote my first post. I repurposed that as the Welcome to this blog.

The last 11 years have been a wonderful ride. I’ve met so many people through this blog — other bloggers, cemetery authors & photographers, tour guides, restorers, historians, genealogists, and more — people who have an attachment to just one graveyard and people like me who will explore every cemetery they come across.

I used this platform to research and write 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and collected some of my favorite photographs into the Cemetery Travels Notebook. I’ve used feedback from blog readers to update Wish You Were Here.

Readers supported me through 2020, when two publishers contacted me about new cemetery books and both proposals fell through. (Oh, 2020, why did you have to be so mean?) Someday, I’ll work my way back around to those books and finish them at last.

Contributors to this blog will appear in the book I’m putting together now, the sequel to the original Death’s Garden published all the way back in 1995. I am so excited about Death’s Garden Revisited! The essays are funny, heartbreaking, and lovely — and focus on cemeteries all around the world. I cannot wait for you to see it.

Here’s to another 11 years of Cemetery Travel. Thank you for being along for the ride!

Questions for Cemetery Bloggers

IMG_9338For a while now I’ve been wanting to connect up with other cemetery bloggers.  If you blog about cemeteries, whether occasionally or solely, would you let me interview you?

To start with, I’ll need your name, the url for your blog, and a way to contact you. You can use the form below. Also, please let me know if you’d like to be featured on Cemetery Travel, or if your responses are just between us.

Here are my questions:

  1. What’s the focus of your blog: geographic, historical era, famous names, iconography or artistry?
  2. How often do you try to post?
  3. Do you have co-bloggers or guest bloggers?
  4. Do you have a favorite cemetery resource — a book, blog, or website — that you turn to often?
  5. If you belong to AGS or another cemetery/history organization, what do you see as the benefits?
  6. If your blog has been ongoing for a while, give me the link to your favorite post(s).
  7. Do you have a favorite cemetery? Describe your favorite cemetery experience.
  8. What’s on your “bucket list” to visit?
  9. Do you accept cemetery books for review?
  10. Can you suggest another cemetery blogger I should contact?


You can reach me through the Contact Me form below. Thank you!  I can’t wait to hear from you.

Cemetery Travel x 500

Highgate summer001

One of my favorite cemeteries: Highgate Cemetery in May

This is my 500th post on Cemetery Travel.  That blows my mind.  When I first started this blog in February 2011, I was looking to impress my agent, so she could find a publisher for my collection of cemetery travel essays.

As much as she liked the proposal I sent her, she wasn’t able to find a publisher for it.  I despaired, even as the blog itself took on a life of its own.

To my surprise and pleasure, a friend in the horror community offered me a book deal.  Western Legends published Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel in April 2013.

At first I saw the blog as an appendage of the book, adding essential details to the essays.  Eventually, the Cemeteries of the Week progressed beyond to 50-some graveyards in the book.  I wanted to direct travelers to the cemeteries and burial sites I hadn’t visited yet.  Some of those posts have been my most popular, hinting at how much cemetery travel information is needed.

My most popular post on the blog, by far, is the one about Martin Luther King Jr.’s gravesite, followed by Elvis Presley’s grave, and Wyatt Earp’s.  The other 143 Cemeteries of the Week still draw a lot of traffic, too.  I’d like to continue adding to that list someday.


Lovely Forest Hill Cemetery

In the meantime, I continue to travel to visit graveyards.  On Memorial Day, I hiked through Madison, Wisconsin to see the native mounds at Forest Hill Cemetery.  Earlier in the month, I spent a glorious day with Emerian Rich, exploring the cemeteries of Contra Costa County, California.  I’m looking forward to revisiting Highgate Cemetery soon, seeing the Pantheon in Paris, and finding the Kiss of Death sculpture in Barcelona’s Pobleno Cemetery.  I have so many more cemeteries to see.

I’m excited to continue the Death’s Garden series of essays.  33 authors have joined the blog so far, some more than once.  They have written about the graves of family members, celebrities, and paupers.  They’ve described famous statuary and forgotten monuments.  They’ve visited cemeteries far from home and just around the corner.  They’ve explored fame and memory and the sense of indescribable peace that comes from being surrounded by acres of tombstones.

The contributors have been cemetery bloggers, tour guides, theater directors, horror writers, and more.  They’ve advocated for restoration.  They’ve arranged cemetery cleanup crews.  They’ve dressed in costume, researched historic inhabitants, and rescued people from being forgotten.  They’ve also told some pretty good ghost stories.


Jane Handel’s hand-colored photo that graced the cover of the original Death’s Garden collection.

I’m excited to see where Cemetery Travel will take us next.  I’m working toward a book called Death’s Garden Revisited, which will collect the best of the Death’s Garden essays, along with gorgeous photography.  I’d like to do a second edition of Wish You Were Here, updating where necessary and adding an index to make it more useful for researchers.  And I’m continuing to chip away at the Historic Cemeteries of the San Francisco Bay Area.

This year I’ve gotten one novel out, to be followed by its sequel in November.  I think 2017 may be the year to bring my cemetery projects into the world.

Thank you for coming along on my journey.

Last Year in Cemetery Travel

Forever vase001

Hollywood Forever by Loren Rhoads.

This blog suffered this year while I concentrated on the writing and release of my space opera trilogy.  I only managed to put up 26 blog posts (including this one), but I am really proud of some of the other advances Cemetery Travel made.

Death’s Garden:

I started publishing the first essays that will become Death’s Garden Revisited.  Thirteen of them have gone up so far, ranging from California to Paris, Missouri to London, and Oregon to Venezuela. The essays have explored losing family members to becoming inspired to lead tours or actually rescuing a graveyard from the brink of destruction. Stay tuned! I have some great things lined up for 2016.

WishYouWereHere-cover-FINAL-600x900Wish You Were Here:

My book of cemetery travel essays was chosen by two book clubs as their book of the month.

Cypress Lawn Book Club
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, California
I fielded questions from the Cypress Lawn Book Club in person. That was a lot of fun.

Morbid Curiosity Book Club
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
BAKA Cafe Gallery Lounge, Toronto, Ontario
This one hasn’t happened yet, but I’m really excited that the club chose my book. You can read along with them — and follow their upcoming selections — at


Mental Floss chose Cemetery Travel as one of 9 Niche Blogs to Brighten Your Winter last January.

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Irene S. Levine for the Chicago Tribune for an extensive piece she wrote about adding cemeteries to your summer travel. It has the wonderful title “Nothing like a Cemetery to Enliven a Trip.”

I did my first Skype interview with Casey Jarman, author of the upcoming Death: An Oral History, which will be out in August 2016 from Zest Books.

I was interviewed by a freelancer for the Mumbai Free Press Journal about the prevalence of tombstone tourism, but the story hasn’t appeared yet. I’m still hopeful.

Finally, Cemetery Travel was quoted as a source in KQED’s Bay Curious article “Why Are So Many Dead People in Colma? And So Few in San Francisco?” You can read it here.

Guest Blogging:

Emerian Rich invited me to kidnap the Horror Addicts blog for a couple of days, so I wrote about the graves of horror’s forefathers: part one, part two, part three.

The Horror Writers Association hosted its annual Halloween Haunts blog series, so of course I wrote about Graveyard Horrors:


Morbid Curiosity and Cemetery Travel were featured on the amazing, long-running Finch Files podcast:

Welcome to Cemetery Travel

The Dourcherot monument, Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Things have changed since I published my first blog post on Cemetery Travel in February 1, 2011, but my origin story is the same:

I started visiting graveyards by accident. A series of missed connections in January 1991 (as the first Gulf War was just beginning) resulted in an unanticipated layover in London, where I picked up Victorian Valhalla, a guidebook to Highgate Cemetery. My husband Mason Jones wanted to visit the graveyard because John Gay’s photos made it look so lovely. In reality, Highgate was ravishing, full of dramatic marble angels taking wing.

As it happened, one graveyard led to another. Our friend Christine has suggested we visit Père Lachaise in Paris, because so many famous people came to rest there. As we wandered, we accidentally discovered my favorite grave marker in all the world: shackled in the granite, Prometheus raises one fist against the gods. If that doesn’t sum up my feeling about death, I don’t know what might.

So I started looking at graveyards because they were pretty, then because famous people rested there. I quickly learned that practically anonymous gravestones tell the best stories. I developed a fascination with history as reflected in burial grounds, which led to studying trends in mortuary decoration. Even though I’ve been intentionally visiting graveyards around the world for 30 years, I still have an immense amount to learn. This will be the occupation of my lifetime.

In my travels, I’ve discovered that graveyards are really very fragile. All it takes is a windstorm, a flood, or a fallen tree to do irreparable harm, not to mention the kind of damage a determined teenager can do. Cemeteries are vulnerable if they are not visited. My mission is to get people to go. The least I can do for the pleasure cemeteries have given me is to inspire and encourage other people to visit for themselves. People protect the things they love. With any luck and the right guidance, you’ll find something to love in a cemetery, too, whether it’s historical figures, beautiful statuary, wildlife, breathtaking scenery, or what have you.

What will you find on Cemetery Travel? I’ve featured over 175 cemeteries, churches, and tombs as my Cemetery of the Week. These are brief encyclopedia entries, something to give the flavor of a particular graveyard — enough to whet your appetite for travel — illustrated with my photographs or postcards from my collection or by photos readers have submitted to the blog.

I also review all the cemetery books I read, so if you’ll looking to build a library, I have plenty of opinions. You can find those by clicking on the Cemetery Book Review category in the sidebar on the right.

Sometimes I publish a collection of snapshots taken on my or a reader’s vacations.

As to calling myself a taphophile? I find the term unnecessarily precious. I prefer to think of myself as a cemetery aficionado. I hope you will, too.

If you need more inspiration, I hope you’ll check out my bookstore.

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