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National Park Quiz 66: Cemeteries

Eternal Flame at the grave of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Arlington National Cemetery photo.

1. True or false? The National Park Service is responsible for keeping the eternal flame lit at John F. Kennedy’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery.

2. True or false? Battleground National Cemetery in Rock Creek Park is one of America’s smallest national cemeteries.

3. True or false? Most of the national cemeteries maintained by the National Park Service remain open for additional burials that meet strict eligibility criteria.

4. True or false? There are more than 20 cemeteries in Mammoth Cave National Park.

5. True or false? People are prohibited from visiting historic cemeteries within Great Smoky National Park unless they have the express written permission of the National Park Service and designated family or community representatives.

6. True or false? African Burial Ground National Monument is accessible from the Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts.

7. True or false? St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site has one of the oldest cemeteries in the United States.

8. True or false? The enabling legislation for Yosemite National Park specified that all cemeteries situated within the park’s borders had to be removed before the park could be opened to the public.

9. Which of the following U.S. Presidents is buried in a cemetery located within a National Park System unit that bears his name?
a. Lyndon B. Johnson
b. Harry S. Truman
c. Abraham Lincoln
d. Theodore Roosevelt

10. On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address at the formal dedication of the ______ , which was later renamed Gettysburg National Cemetery.
a. Soldier’s National Cemetery at Gettysburg
b. Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery at Gettysburg
c. Cemetery Ridge National Cemetery
d. Seminary Ridge National Cemetery

Extra Credit Question:

11. A footpath that leads up a hill near the house takes you to a gravesite. Mounted on a stone monument there is a grave marker that reads: "I got few things to live by: Don't say nothing that will hurt anybody. Don't give advice -- nobody will take it anyway. Don't complain. Don't explain." The sculpted face of the grave’s occupant adorns the top of the plaque-like grave marker. The man’s name is there too, of course. Who was this man?

Super Bonus Question:

12. If Congress were to establish a “Famous American Burials National Historic Site,” a good place to do it would be in Colma, California, a tiny San Francisco Bay community with 1,191 live residents and about 1.5 million dead ones. Among the permanent residents of Colma’s 17 cemeteries are all of the following EXCEPT:
a. William “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846-1917)
b. Wyatt Earp (1848-1929)
c. Levi Strauss (1829-1902)
d. Joe Dimaggio (1914-1999)


(1) False. Arlington National Cemetery is not situated within a National Park System unit. It is a military cemetery administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

(2) True. Battleground National Cemetery was established to honor Union soldiers killed in the Battle of Fort Stevens while defending Washington, DC, in July 1864. It is just one acre in size.

(3) False. There are 14 National Park Service-maintained national cemeteries, and 12 of them are closed. The only ones not yet closed are at Andersonville National Historic Site and Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.

(4) True. In fact, more than 70 cemeteries and family plots were associated with the hundreds of small farms and dozens of small communities acquired to create the park. One of the park’s most interesting burial grounds is the Old Guides Cemetery, which is located along the Heritage Trail by the Mammoth Cave Hotel.

(5) False. Park visitors may visit any of the park’s historic cemeteries, provided that they behave respectfully. As of 2008, about 160 cemeteries had been located and mapped within the park.

(6) False. This National Park System unit preserves a 6.6-acre site in Lower Manhattan that was used for the burial of both free and enslaved Africans from about the 1690s to the 1790s. Accidentally discovered in 1991, the site was proclaimed African Burial Ground National Monument in 2006 and is scheduled for completion later this year.

(7) True. The cemetery in St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site has about 6,000 graves dating as far back as 1665. The cemetery’s oldest headstone is apparently one erected in 1704.

(8) False. Yosemite Valley’s little Pioneer Cemetery, which existed long before the park was established, is located across the street and to the west of the Yosemite Museum. Among the people interred in this graveyard are the first white child born in the valley, a man who was killed by renegade Indians, the first man to climb Half Dome, and a number of people who succumbed to accidents or illness while visiting the park.

(9) a – President Lyndon B. Johnson is buried in the Johnson family cemetery on the LBJ Ranch in Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park near Johnson City, Texas. BTW, Harry S. Truman is buried at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri. Abraham Lincoln is buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. Theodore Roosevelt’s grave is in Youngs Memorial Cemetery near Oyster Bay, New York.

(10) a – Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg address at the formal dedication of Soldier’s National Cemetery at Gettysburg.

(11) These things mark the grave of Walter “Scotty” Scott, better known as Death Valley Scotty. Scotty’s burial site overlooks Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley National Park.

(12) a – William "Buffalo Bill" Cody is buried on Lookout Mountain near Golden, Colorado. Colma, California was founded in 1924 as a necropolis for the city of San Francisco. The list of famous people buried there is amazing, and the associated stories are quite fascinating. For example, Wyatt Earp (who was never so much as even nicked in a gun battle, including OK Corral) is buried in Colma’s Eternity Memorial Park next to his wife Josephine, who was from a prominent Jewish family in San Francisco.

Grading: 9 or 10 correct, rest on your laurels; 7 or 8 correct, pretty darn good; 6 correct, passable fair; 5 or fewer correct, nothing to brag about.


#12 - That little community of the dead located south of San Francisco is Colma (not Coloma, as indicated in the question.)

Good catch, xnprngr, and I do thank you very kindly. I made the fix. Now, prepare for some weaselspeak. Several years ago I visited Coloma (ghost town) in the California gold country incident to a stay at Sierra City and some hiking on the PCT. That's surely why I wrote Coloma instead of Colma. Pretty good weaselspeak, wouldn't you say?

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