Cemeteries of the American West Offer A Dark Tourism Alternative To Vanilla Vacations

By Todd Neikirk
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Cemeteries of the American West Offer A Dark Tourism Alternative To Vanilla Vacations

Todd Neikirk
 
 
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While it may be morbid, many tourists like to visit cemeteries when they’re on vacation. And the American West has a lot to offer. The area features not only famous cowboys from the Wild Wild West, but also the earliest stars of the silver screen. Here are some of the most popular cemeteries people love to visit in the American West.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, California

Revelers celebrate Dia De Los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Revelers celebrate Dia De Los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Photo by Araya Doheny/Getty Images)

Hollywood Forever Cemetery was built in 1899 before the town became the epicenter for the entertainment business. Over the next number of decades, countless stars were buried there including Burt Reynolds, Judy Garland, Estelle Getty, and Rudolph Valentino.

There is also a supposed ghost that roams the grounds. Virginia Rappe, an aspiring actress who was killed under mysterious circumstances in 1921 is buried at Hollywood Forever and is said to haunt the place.

Silver Cliff Cemetery, Silver Cliff, Colorado

The eerie blue lights of Silver Cliff Cemetery draw plenty of visitors
The eerie blue lights of Silver Cliff Cemetery draw plenty of visitors (Image via Plazak/Wikimedia Commons)

Silver Cliff Cemetery in Colorado does not contain the bodies of anyone all that famous. The still-active site was first opened in the 1800s and includes sections for Catholic and Protestant burials.

What makes Silver Cliff a tourist destination are the eerie blue lights that hang over the graves at night. Skeptics have given many explanations for why the lights are there but that hasn’t stopped visitors from feeling that they are evidence of ghosts.

Boothill Cemetery, Tombstone, Arizona

Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton are buried at Boothill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona
Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton are buried at Boothill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona (Photo via Marine 69-71/Wikimedia Commons)

There are many boot hill cemeteries in the American West. The sites mostly hold pioneers who ‘died with their boots on.’ The most famous of these is in Tombstone, Arizona.

Tombstone is, of course, where the shootout at the OK Corral occurred. Buried in the graveyards are outlaws Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury, and Tom McLaury as well as murdered Marshall Fred White.

Old Fort Sumner, New Mexico

Billy the Kid's Grave is surrounded by metal bars
Image via Sam Vast/Wikimedia Commons

Visits to the final resting place of Wild West outlaws are all the rage. And there are few outlaws more renowned than Billy the Kid. William H. Bonney was born under the name Henry McCarty in New York City.

Billy the Kid, though, died in a New Mexico town called Fort Sumner. His final resting place has been a popular tourist destination going all the way back to his death in 1881. Due to constant vandalism, Billy the Kid’s headstone is covered by iron bars.

Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, California

Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery is known for its beauty
Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery is known for its beauty (Photo by MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images)

The first thing that Mountain View is known for is its spectacular beauty. The cemetery, which first opened in 1863 was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. Olmstead is most famous for designing New York City’s incredible central park.

There are also a number of famous people buried in this graveyard. Those interred include luminaries of the founding of San Francisco like Domingo Ghirardelli and Harry J. Kaiser. Also buried at Mountain View are baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Lombardi, Black Dahlia murder victim Elizabeth Short and Glenn Burke, the first openly gay baseball player in MLB history.

Lakeview Cemetery, Seattle, Washington

Bruce and Brandon Lee are buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Seattle, Washington
Bruce and Brandon Lee are buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Seattle, Washington (Photo by Elena Di Vincenzo/Archivio Elena Di Vincenzo/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Lakeview Cemetery, in Seattle Washington, has existed since 1872. People important to the history of the city are buried there including Princess Angeline, the daughter of Chief Seattle. Also buried there are Seattle’s economic father Henry Yesler and entrepreneur John W. Nordstrom.

The reason people visit Lakeview Cemetery, though, is because Bruce Lee is buried there. The martial arts superstar died in 1973 at only 33 years of age. His son Brandon also died in a tragic fashion in 1993 when he was only 28 years old. Both Lees are buried at Lakeview Cemetery and draw a good amount of tourists eery year.

Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Memorial

Marilyn Monroe's final resting place draws a high number of visitors each year
Marilyn Monroe’s final resting place draws a high number of visitors each year (Photo by Paul Harris/Getty Images)

There are few celebrities more renowned than Marilyn Monroe. One of the first American icons, she died at the young age of 36 in 1962. Since then, tourists have flocked to her gravestone.

Monroe is interred at Pierce Brothers in Westwood, Los Angeles. While the gravesite is small, Monroe’s popularity, of course, is outsized. The gravesite draws a large number of tourists each year.

 
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