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Taphophile Mania: Mount Auburn Cemetery

Hello, my name is Robyn and I’m a taphophile.


Relax. Not so bad. And definitely not contagious.

A taphophile is a lover of cemeteries (from the Greek “táphos,” which means “tomb” and from the English “phile,” which means “loving” or “friendly” or “friend”). Also known as a tombstone tourist, cemetery enthusiast, and gravestone hunter.

I’ve always loved cemeteries. They’re peaceful. They’re rich in history. And spending time with the dead makes it much easier to spend time with the living. That last part might just be my own quirk of nature. But taphophiles are a real thing. There are many of us.

I love walking around cemeteries (the older, the better), looking at the names, thinking about their stories, wondering how they lived their lives. I have no idea if there’s an afterlife, and I’ll confess that when I’m walking around, I’m always looking for evidence of paranormal activity. But I haven’t encountered anything so far: nothing but a deep sense of peace. Which is certainly good enough.

Recently, I visited the oldest landscaped cemetery in the US, which happens to be in my own backyard practically: Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass.

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Consecrated in 1831, this cemetery changed America’s approach to grieving, commemoration, even death. The cemetery boasts 175 acres, 60,000 monuments spanning three centuries, and 9,400 trees and shrubs. Almost 100,000 people are buried there, and it’s an “active” cemetery, meaning space is still available.

There are some well known folks buried here, including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Henry Cabot Lodge, Mary Baker Eddy, and Winslow Homer. I spent a couple hours there on a Saturday morning and will need to go back. My goal for this visit was to get a lay of the land and simply explore rather than hunt for specific graves.

There is SO much to see, like the Sphinx, which honors the preservation of the Union and the end of slavery.

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And the Washington Tower. I realized after I left that I didn’t get a shot of the tower itself, but the picture below shows it (lower left-hand corner).

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AND I CLIMBED ALL 99 STEPS IN 80+ DEGREE HEAT. Worth it. You have a great view of the Boston skyline. Below is a shot of the ground from the top.

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So many interesting things to look at…

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Just some random angels…

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There are many bodies of water, reflection pools, and the like. This is Willow Pond. I can only imagine (for now) autumn’s splendor. I’ll be returning in October for sure.

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Speaking of which. I call this one “Harbinger.”

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Adventures with Sparky and me continue. Where will I go next? Subscribe to my blog to keep up with that along with news about my writing and books. #sparkyandme