How I find cemeteries to visit

My favorite tools for finding new cemeteries to explore.

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My mom also enjoys visiting pioneer cemeteries and it’s great to have something else we can share. Recently she asked me, “How do you find cemeteries to visit?” I told her a few ways, then realized there were more. Here they are, in case it helps anyone else.

One caveat: I am an amateur taphophile, not a hardcore graver, genealogist, or researcher. Most of my research is done through easily-accessible online resources. More dedicated folks than I have more in-depth tools and techniques.

Google Maps is my obvious choice and #1 tool for finding and navigating to cemeteries. When I find cemeteries to visit, I save them to a custom list called “Cemeteries.” After visiting, I also save them to a custom list called “Been There Done That.”

Google My Maps is a separate app from Google Maps. I’m still struggling to get my arms around some of its features. I have imported data from GPS devices and other sources, such as our “blue pin map,” imported GPS data from the ExpertGPS web site. Once I’ve visited a cemetery, I change its pin color from blue to green. Orange and red pin colors mark cemeteries where visits may be problematic or not possible. Google Maps entries can be saved to a Google My Maps.

Screenshot of the “blue pin map” from My Maps

The Oregon Burial Site Guide is an enormously heavy, dense, detailed book that really ought to be sold with its own wheelie cart. This great book has helped me explore many beautiful and interesting areas of Oregon and often tells me whether a site exists or not or is on private property. I wish there was one for every state.

Findagrave.com is enormously helpful with finding cemeteries especially when they have more than one name. As a thank-you I contribute photos. Here’s the Houston cemetery in Albany, Oregon which until recently I didn’t realize was a separate cemetery from the one across the street, Waverly Memorial.

County web sites usually list their cemetery districts and where cemeteries are located. A county can have multiple cemetery districts containing one or more cemeteries. The Rainier Cemetery District has an exceptional site.

Screenshot from Skamania County GIS map

County GIS web sites (such as the Skamania County WA one) are great for locating the precise location of a cemetery lot. (If someone’s paying taxes on it they’re gonna be damn sure that map is accurate.) It’s good for determining whether a cemetery is located on private property.

Those are the search tools I use on an everyday basis. I track visits in Google Sheets, a topic for another post. There are other search tools, such as ordinary Google search (text), as well as web sites for online topo maps, geocaching, books, and historical and genealogical societies. My boyfriend is especially adept at using those to answer questions about particular cemeteries so I often sic him on a puzzle. When it’s possible again, I’d like to visit some county historical museums in person. What are your favorite search tools?


Stump and Lamb explores personal growth and meaning via travels to pioneer cemeteries of the West. Posts may contain affiliate links.

This post was originally published at michellerau.com.

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