Colma Cemetery — San Francisco’s City of the Dead

This commuting life post is both reflection and about the horse. With the horse, I think I’ve reached some sort of critical mass with rentals where free upgrades are now a part of the package. So, this is my second Mustang in a row and I’m wondering if I’m going to run out of monuments to visit in San Francisco.

The plan was to drive across the Bay Bridge a few times because it’s recently re-opened and people are still talking about it.

But, this horse didn’t have a click-y/swing-y thing on the window that allows me to pay for the bridge toll automatically as I cross. And, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Bay Area Toll Authority, it’s that they will consistently mess up your bridge crossing payment if you don’t use a click-y/swing-y thing.

Plus, I needed some quiet reflection time and I decided to head over to a massively huge site that’s not a monument per se, but hugely important to San Francisco. So, this week’s monument is the Town of Colma, a.k.a. San Francisco’s graveyard.

Back in the early 1900s, the city of San Francisco decided that dead people should be moved outside of the city, so they sent out eviction notices in 1912, dug everyone up, and moved them to Colma.

I’m not sure why… perhaps it’s a safety thing with earthquakes and diseases that like to make a comeback via water (like cholera and yellow fever). I did notice that entire rows of gravestones were tilted sideways… consistently, which means the earth has moved enough to shift headstones.

If this is happening on the surface, then I can guarantee it’s probably a mess underground. Who knows where bodies have migrated. It’s probably a huge party under the grass.

There are many many different graves in Colma… 2 million-ish worth. That’s bigger than Glasnevin in Dublin and double the size of a city like Calgary. It doesn’t seem like a lot until you wander over a hill and suddenly it’s graves as far as the eye can see; it truly is a necropolis and an incredibly humbling reminder to enjoy life, stay healthy, and not take things for granted.

There are multiple graveyards for different denominations. I wandered Woodlawn Memorial Park before driving over to Cypress Lawn Memorial Park and eventually climbing over a stone wall to get into Hills of Eternity.

I had no goal in mind except to avoid people and find balance after three weeks of endless exhausting travel. All are beautiful and quiet. I even managed to discover Wyatt Earp’s grave (Hills of Eternity Memorial Park, D.2. if anyone is interested in visiting). While here a creepy cold fog quickly rolled in and added to the ambience.

People in the U.S. don’t seem to like to visit cemeteries except to pay respects to family members. But, I find graveyards remind me of the balance between life and death. And, it reminds me that at the end of my life I want to look back and say, “I had an incredible life” and not “I wish I’d lived more.”

The best part of it the visit was watching two young kids having fun playing soccer around “Abuela” who was buried somewhere near them.

1 comment on “Colma Cemetery — San Francisco’s City of the DeadAdd yours →

  1. Love those old cemeteries for their historical value. The cemeteries around here (NS) are full of monuments to pioneers, old sea captains, artists, politicians, etc.

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