The Other Sleepy Hollow

You won't find any mention of Ichabod Crane here, but it's still spooky

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Bikeable via Wikimedia Commons

One of the largest cemeteries in the vicinity of Boston is Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, located in the suburb of Concord. The cemetery's ubiquity—it's listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is the final resting place of many famous Bostonians—leads some people to believe it is the Sleepy Hollow, i.e. the one of "Headless Horseman" fame. While it is New York's Sleepy Hollow (which is a town and not a cemetery) that's the source of the famous ghost story, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is certainly worth a visit if you happen to be in Boston.

The History of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Sleepy Hollow's history dates back to the mid-19th century, a rather, well, sleepy time, when one of the hottest topics among the people of Concord, MA where to bury all the people who were dying in the town. The two previous cemeteries, fittingly called "New Hill" and "Old Hill," were full. Sleepy Hollow's official dedication occurred in 1855, although city ordinances have enlarged it more than eight times since then. People kept dying—imagine that!

The honorary speaker? Not the Headless Horseman, but none other than Ralph Waldo Emerson. While it's pretty incredible that someone so famous would speak at the dedication of a place like a cemetery, this fact will seem especially strange once you learn the fate that ultimately befell Mr. Emerson.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery's Famous Tenants

Indeed, Sleepy Hollow's infamy draws far from the famous people buried here than from confusion with the legend of Ichabod Crane. These people were mostly writers, which has led to locals and vistors alike referring to their final resting place as "Author's Ridge." The most notable names include Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau and, perhaps quite morbidly, Ralph Waldo Emerson himself. Well, his burial here was morbid, not his death. That happens to everyone eventually, after all!

Thanks to Author's Ridge and other aspects of the cemetery, Sleepy Hollow has achieved a listing in the National Register of Historical Places. Another important historical feature of the cemetery is a memorial to James Melvin who, at the time, was one of Boston's most famous businessmen. Actually, although Melvin purchased the memorial, it isn't a memorial to him, but rather to three of his brothers who died fighting in the Civil War.

How to Visit Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is easy to visit from anywhere in Boston. Thanks to direct bus service from a company called Concord Coaches, you can reach the cemetery in less than an hour, whether you travel immediately from Logan Airport to Concord, or depart from Boston's South Station, which is convenient to many Boston hotels and guest houses.

Once you arrive in Concord, getting to the cemetery is equally as easy. Simply walk to Monument Square, which is located right in the center of town, then one block east to Bedford Street. On account of Sleepy Hollow's size—over 10,000 grave sites as of September 2015—it's unlikely that you would be able to miss it. The real question is whether you can manage to cover the vast ground of Sleepy Hollow in time to get back to the city before the witching hour.

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