Besides having one of the coolest sounding names in the cemetery industry, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts has some of the most illustrious inhabitants in the country. Although a number of these illustrious inhabitants are famous American writers, they do not include Washington Irving, so suffice to say that this Sleepy Hollow has nothing to do with a famous horseman of legend.
Concord is a quaint little town just a forty minute drive outside of Boston. It first came to prominence as the site of the “shot heard ’round the world”, to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson. Later in its action packed life, Concord was home to an inordinate amount of prominent authors during the heydays of American literature. These days the town is popular with either history-minded tourists, who flock to the Minute Man National Historic Park, or literary-minded tourists, who visit Walden Pond or the Wayside, a home lived in by both Nathaniel Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott.
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is a destination in itself. My first visit there was years ago, the day before Halloween. The trees were aflame with leaves of red and yellow, the ground was a mottled palette of fallen foliage and dying grass, and the headstones jutted through everywhere, proudly darkened by age. The graveyard lazily rolls through the hills for acres upon acres; there are an estimated 10,000 graves here. Stone steps lead from one terrace of burials to another, making it a pleasurable place for a stroll of discovery.
Writer’s Ridge is where many of the famous authors rest. On one of the tallest hills, under some of the tallest trees in the grounds lay Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Louisa May Alcott. Humble to the last, none of these great pens have more than modest headstones, and each is surrounded by their families.
Though I searched, I could not discover any creditable ghost stories connected with this cemetery. It’s possible that the good people of Sleepy Hollow are content to slumber undisturbed. Or perhaps I just didn’t search hard enough! Regardless, I would heartily suggest a trip to Concord and Sleepy Hollow, should you ever find yourself in the Boston area. I’ve been multiple times, and the visits never disappoint.