This Sunday, September 16, I will show some of my favorite photographs from 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die at one of my favorite cemeteries in the book, Colma’s Cypress Lawn Memorial Park.
Cypress Lawn was founded in the 1890s as a garden cemetery. To this day, it is full of lovely statuary, an exotic arboretum, carpet flowerbeds, and monuments to the founding fathers of San Francisco. It also has acres of stained glass in its public catacombs. It’s one of the loveliest cemeteries in Northern California.
Tell me your favorite graveyard in the comments below and win a paperback copy of Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. I’ll pick one winner at random on Halloween.
Almost every tourist destination has a graveyard. You go to Yosemite National Park: there’s a graveyard. You go to Maui: graveyards everywhere you look. The Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: both graveyards. The number one tourist destination in Michigan has three cemeteries. America’s best-preserved Gold Rush ghost town has five. Gettysburg is a National Park because it has a graveyard. Some graveyards are even tourist destinations in themselves: the Old Jewish Cemetery of Prague, the colonial burying grounds of Boston, and Kennedy’s eternal flame in Arlington National Cemetery. Jim Morrison’s grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery ranks in the top five tourist sites of Paris.
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.
The book trailer:
Praise for Wish You Were Here:
“Lovingly researched and lushly described, Loren’s essays transport you to the graveyard, where she is quite a tour guide. Curiosity and compassion burn at the heart of these essays.”—Paula Guran, editor of Dark Echo magazine
“Rhoads is particularly adept at finding deeper meanings in what she sees, and the questions she puts to the reader about the places she visits can gently guide us in our own search for meaning in the places we encounter. If you’ve struggled to explain your love of burial grounds to others, this may be a great way to help them understand.”—LisaMary Wichowski, The Association of Graveyard Rabbits Online Journal
“Loren Rhoads started visiting cemeteries by accident. It was the start of a love affair with cemeteries that continues to this day. In Wish You Were Here, Rhoads blends history with storytelling and her photos accompany each essay.”—American Cemeterymagazine
“Wish You Were Here captures well why many of us find cemeteries fascinating: because of the history and stories of so many interesting people buried there!”—Richard Waterhouse, Waterhouse Symbolism Newsletter
“‘It’s good to be a card-carrying member of the Association for Gravestone Studies,’ Loren writes. I agree. After half a lifetime of guided and self-guided tours, Loren observes, ‘What I’ve learned from cemeteries is that limestone melts, marble breaks, slate slivers, and sandstone cracks.’ That is what draws some of us to graveyards.”—Christine Quigley, Quigley’s Cabinet
“With her dead-on honesty and her fascination for the dark side of life in all its complexity, Loren’s writing never fails to make me think.”—Thomas Roche, Loren’s editor at Gothic.Net
Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel was published by Western Legends Press in May 2013. Autographed and inscribed copies can be ordered directly from me via PayPal from my bookshop. To request inscriptions, use the Contact Me form above.
“The most interesting of New Orleans historic burial places…”
Q: There are a lot of cemetery aficionado groups on Facebook. What sets yours apart?
A: Graveyard Detectives provides a home for those interested in the World of Graveyards and Cemeteries. It takes a look at the stories behind the stones, as well as the symbolism, funerary architecture, and news about cemeteries from around the world. Photographs of memorials and gravestones, accompanied by some research on the person(s) they commemorate, are most welcome. If members of the group have any interesting related memorabilia, they are encouraged to share with this group. The purpose of the group is to help expand knowledge of this most fascinating area of interest.
Q: How old is your group?
A: It evolved out of my blog The Graveyard Detective, which launched in 2009. To this, I added a Graveyard Detective Facebook page, which highlights news about cemeteries worldwide. In late 2010, I created the Graveyard Detectives group to enable those interested in the subject to share their knowledge.
Q: Do you have a policy about what is appropriate to post?
A: I don’t have a published policy about what is appropriate or not. I have been fortunate, so far, that members of the group have stuck to the subject. That said, I do find an increasing number of people asking to join the group are unsuitable: mostly individuals with a profile picture of an attractive young woman, despite an about section that lists them as male — and there is only one post, which records that HE has changed HIS profile picture. Let those through and, suddenly, there is a post offering services or fashion bargains, etc. Response? Instant report, delete, and ban! I am an Admin on Cemetery Iron and find they get a certain number of dubious individuals wanting to join.
Membership of the group has risen more than 120% in the past three months and more people are posting in it. I think this is a reasonable indicator that the mix of content is probably about right.
Q: Is your group open to new members?
A: I run an open group, but prospective members need to ask to join.
Q: Are you a member of any other cemetery groups?
A: Twenty-eight related groups. There were more, but I recently withdrew from several and am likely to drop out of more in the future, concentrating on those I believe to add value to the subject.
Grave monument damaged by a fallen tree after the Connecticut hurricane of 9/21/1938.
One of the reporters for the Weather Channel contacted me last week with some questions about how weather affects cemeteries. The story went up on Thursday. It’s accompanied by some beautiful photos (not mine) — and it’s added a few more destinations to my ever-growing list of graveyards I must see.
Have any of your local cemeteries been affected by weather? Droughts can change the landscape as much as flooding. Ice storms, acid rain, lichen spurred by wet climates or desert dryness can all threaten graveyards.
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