Why These South Jersey Cemeteries Draw Huge Crowds

| © slgckgc / Flickr
Kate Morgan

Some of South Jersey’s most prominent tourist attractions may seem a bit unorthodox, but they contain centuries of NJ history all in one place. These historic cemeteries draw huge crowds every year thanks to the great names engraved on the monuments there.

Harleigh Cemetery, Camden

Harleigh is one of the oldest cemeteries in New Jersey, and while it’s the final resting place of a number of prominent people, the most well-known and most frequently visited tomb belongs to legendary American poet Walt Whitman. Whitman, who lived his last days in Camden, paid $3,000 raised by his admirers to build a house-shaped crypt into a hillside in Harleigh. Whitman was reportedly deeply involved in the crypt’s design and construction. He was particularly concerned that the iron gate at the front of the crypt remain plumb through the years, but his worries were unfounded. Today, visitors leave pennies along the gate, which still swings true.

A 1906 visitor to Walt Whitman’s tomb

Princeton Cemetery

The cemetery at Nassau Presbyterian Church in downtown Princeton is one of the most visited in New Jersey, and for good reason. It’s the final resting place of both Aaron Burr Sr. and his son, the oft-maligned Aaron Burr, Jr., perhaps most famous for killing Alexander Hamilton in a NJ duel. Also buried in Princeton Cemetery are Declaration of Independence signer Richard Stockton, mathematician Alonzo Church, publisher and bookseller Sylvia Beach, and pollster George Gallup. One of the most visited graves belongs to former President Grover Cleveland. Cleveland’s grave is often covered in flowers and small stones – tokens from visitors honoring Cleveland’s opposition to the annexation of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Grover Cleveland’s grave in Princeton, lined with small tokens of admiration from visitors

Mount Olive Cemetery

Football fans flock to Middletown to pay homage to the man known as the most successful professional football coach in history. Vince Lombardi, the man for whom the Super Bowl trophy is named, rose to fame as the coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967. Long before that, though, he was coaching high school football in New Jersey. When he died in 1970, Lombardi was buried at Mount Olive Cemetery, and despite the fact that the site is only adorned with a plain granite stone, football devotees still visit daily to see the final resting place of the father of modern football.

The statue of Vince Lombardi outside Green Bay’s Lambeau Field
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