I’ve returned from a “Dead Presidents Tour”.
I wanted to visit some friends in Ohio; and as that state has more dead presidents than any other, I planned my route accordingly.
Friday, I drove through Indiana, stopping in Indianapolis for about five hours to see Crown Hill Cemetery, which includes President Benjamin Harrison; three Vice Presidents (and one failed candidate for that post); John Dillinger; and poet James Whitcomb Riley. A fine Victorian cemetery, I rate it at 4.5 stars (equal to Chicago’s Forest Home or Mt. Carmel).
After staying the night at a friend’s house in western Ohio, I visited the grave of Warren G. Harding in Marion. He is generally considered a poor president, but because he died in office has a magnificent monument – a circular structure about one hundred feet across, surrounded by columns fifty feet high, with his grave and that of his wife in a courtyard in the middle. The cemetery across the street has the receiving vault where the president’s body was temporarily stored.
All day Sunday I was in Cleveland. Lakeview Cemetery is magnificent, and I toured it the whole day, longer than I had planned. President Garfield’s monument dominates – it is a 160-foot brown stone tower, with a statue of the president on the main floor, and the burial chamber below. Surprisingly, the president and first lady’s coffins were exposed – not sealed behind or under any stone, the bronze coffins sat on pedestals in the open air, with only iron bars to keep the tourists from touching them. Lakeview is a “5-star” cemetery, my highest rating.
Monday I journeyed home, stopping first in Canton to see President McKinley – who has a large domed mausoleum on top of a hill – and explore the graveyard next door, with its wonderful hillside vaults.
I then drove most of the way across Ohio, stopping in the small town of Fremont to visit the Rutherford B. Hayes presidential center; the president’s estate, now converted into a library and museum. The president and his wife, their son and his wife are in a small graveyard on the grounds, with a comparitively humble monument.
I drove home on I-90 across northern Indiana. As I passed the town of Gary, a long stretch of chemical factories came into view – and at that same moment, the song “Black God” by My Dying Bride began on the CD player… that song is just about the bleakest, most mournful piece of music I know, and was perfect for the view out the window.
The total score: 1,980 photos.
(this post was copied from my previous blog, December 2008)