Browsing our full-time RVing photo galleries recently, I was reminded of one of our favorite things to do when visiting new locations around the country—and something I’ve wanted to do here for a long time now. Whether we’re in big cities or small towns in the middle of nowhere, we always like to check out the local cemeteries. So, with an ever-increasing number of pictures, I’ve created a new gallery just for all our graveyard and headstone photos.
Morbid? Not! I find it fascinating. All cemeteries are filled with local history, and some offer plenty of mystery. I also take honor paying tribute to those who have passed, often left to be forgotten in some far off burial plot long since grown over with weeds. Whether they died in the service of their country, have eloquent memorials or odd markers, or just share my last name, I’ve always enjoyed walking the rows and taking pictures.
NOTE: The gallery above will always be updated with our most recent cemetery photos, and the following are a few favorites from over the years. So far…
Why Visit & Photograph Cemeteries?
First, a few reasons I like to wander amongst graves photograph memorial plots… The historical factor, and famous figures:
Genealogy research, for my own family or those of friends:
To find the oldest marker:
The kitsch factor:
Just lain old creepiness:
Favorite Cemeteries Around The Country
Cemeteries all have their own distinct charm or attraction, especially the old ones, but these are a couple of our favorites…
The Garden of Good and Evil
One of the largest, oldest and most memorable we have visited has to be Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. Featured in the book and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, it is the final resting place of Johnny Mercer, and has some of the most elaborate markers and dramatic scenery, cloaked by trees draped in Spanish moss.
Most Haunted Cemetery in America
The creepiest time we have ever had walking amongst the dead was at what we later discovered to be the most haunted cemetery in the United States. Forest Park Cemetery in Brunswick, NY is reported by many to be exactly that. And that is exactly how we felt!
The Real Old West
The Boot Hill Graveyard, otherwise known as Tombstone Cemetery, was fun but it is really much more of a tourist trap than the truly old western graveyards we have found. Take Terlingua, for starters, where it seems nearly the whole town started dying off 1903—the year mercury mining began nearby.
Best Headstones Ever
Finally, a few of my all time favorite grave markers and headstones… Have you ever seen one of these intriguing X-shaped markers? With the cosmic DNA references, baby and atomic explosion! We have stumbled upon two of them in our travels, nearly identical, at cemeteries across the country from each other! The one pictured above belongs to Sterling Hallard Bright Drake of Walla Walla, WA—a rather interesting fellow to say the least according to his short documentary.
“A parting note for those who may pass by. If you quest for the line between truth and reality, you’ll find it in the “Hs” under honor, in the library of ambivalence.” ~Sterling Drake 12-25-1998
Apparently we don’t have a picture of the other one we saw when boondocking for free one night next to the Delta City Cemetery in Utah. Then there is this marker in New Braunfels, Texas… What mother could ask for a better epitaph, than to be remembered for her meatloaf? And among the confederate soldiers buried in Fredericksburg, VA, there is this… What better way to be remembered, than with a sense of humor!
What is a Taphophile?
Apparently there is a name for this attraction we have with cemeteries, honoring the dead and photographing graves and markers. The term is taphophile, as in epitaph.
taphophilia Type: Term Pronunciation: taf′ō-fil′ē-ă Definitions: 1. Morbid attraction for graves.
Perhaps we are a bit morbid after all. What do you expect from a guy born on All Saints Day?
Where is Your Favorite Cemetery?
Do you enjoy wandering around graveyards, honoring the dead, and photographing markers? Leave a comment and share a link to your photos! Want to read more about our quirky adventures? Subscribe to this blog and keep updated about new posts. No? Let us know what you do want to hear about!
5 thoughts on “Best Cemeteries To Photograph in the U.S.”
Now I feel the need to organize all my cemetery pictures into an album. I have a few of the same pictures y’all have, like the Savannah wall. I love the history that cemeteries represent and also the architecture and botanical appeal of many of the grounds. Especially the East coast cemeteries with moss covered or huge old oak trees. Many of the cities I visit, the older local cemetery is on my visit list. Thanks for the inspiration.
Thanks Karma! Hopefully you noticed the Bevelhimer plot in the “genealogy” gallery that I fixed after noticing it being broken while we were in the Tripawds chat earlier.
Heehee – I too love photographing old cemeteries. I always have a sense of history walking through and reading headstones and wondering. We have an old pioneer cemetery here in Helena and I really enjoy the old rural and ghost town cemeteries!
Great article, and a perfect link to include in my genealogy course on cemetery research. Genealogy buffs often ask if it’s abnormal to have such an interest in cemeteries. It’s part of our history. Cemeteries are precious memorials to our ancestors, whose lives mattered. Thanks for this article.
Abnormal? We say “define normal?” If you can, well, that’s weird!