Do you know where the Battleship USS Maine Memorial is located? Do you have a clue where a number of its tragic crew members that died on that fateful night in Havana, Cuba’s harbor are buried? I guess some might say Havana since that’s where it was sunk but they too would be wrong… it’s right here in the Historic Key West Cemetery!
The sinking of the USS Maine Battleship has long since said to be the powder that sparked the beginning of the Spanish-American War! If you can believe it, in 1898 the USS Maine was only our Nations 2nd Battleship! The Maine had been sent to Havana, Cuba in January 1898 to protect the US interests there and then 3-weeks later on February 15th at 9:40 pm it was gone in a horrific explosion killing 274 men leaving only 89 survivors. Long being a source for conspiracy theories the US at that time blamed Spain who at that time controlled Cuba and touched off the final remaining spark that ignited the Spanish-American War. Did you know that the Spanish-American War lasted ONLY 10 WEEKS! I’ve included two photos below of the USS Maine in the harbor before and after that fateful day in 1898.
You can find this Historic part of the Spanish-American War here at Key West’s Historic Cemetery surrounded by a wrought iron gate topped by spears and battle axes of all things. I promise, you can’t miss the giant bronze sailor standing guard of his lost souls as seen in the photo above. The photo below shows flags on some of the graves during this past Memorial Day honors at the cemetery… I was there, it was very emotional and moving to say the least! The cemetery is open from dawn to dusk and is of course FREE.
Woman In Bondage
Welcome to SOME of the weirdest, most different, neat, odd, funky and “what’s that suppose to mean” cemetery statues in Key West’s historic final resting place.
The absolute most different statue of them all that just doesn’t fit or have any explanation is the naked woman in bondage belonging to Mr. Archibald Yates. Yes, a naked woman sitting on a stone looking up with her eyes closed and hands TIED behind her back (seen below) … on a mans grave. I asked the cemetery Sexton if he had any secret unpublished information of WHY this statue is on a mans grave and what it meant. He replied that little is known about this misunderstood statue and has NO rhyme or reason to be where it is and comes to him with no history on why it was chosen. Oh yeah, there’s 4 small replicas on each of the four corners of the grave making 5 of these strange artistic carvings to admire.
Next in this weird category is the SKULL & CROSS BONES carved into an Egyptian obelisk. I too ask the Sexton about it which he replied: “Where? I’ve NEVER seen one!” we then stood up, opened his office door as I pointed to where it was. He then responded: “I can’t wait to go check it out!”
And finally for this edition, the most unusually beautiful BABY tombstone in the entire cemetery located in its Catholic section. Obviously the child left this earth in its infancy and was very much missed and loved by his parents. This historic cemetery is truly a walk through history and time!
This is FREE and well worth spending a portion of your visit… you won’t be disappointed! Remember, there’s a self-guided tour available with map!
I Told You I Was Sick
Epitaphs are last words or thoughts left behind to perpetuate a lasting impression… and boy do they! Some of which are nothing less than humorous as seen in the photo to the left. The most famous Key West epitaph “I told you I was sick!” was left for us by B.P. Roberts (better known as Pearl) who died in 1979.
Key West offers a FREE Self-Guided Tour brochure available below the historical marker at the main entrance to the cemetery. Below is one that says “I’m just resting my eyes” are the last words of Gloria Russell located above B.P. Roberts in the same crypt. Both of these are #36 on the self-guided tour map.
To leave an epitaph about yourself is one thing, but to include a famous person in yours is just weird as in this one from #48 on the tour map is Edwina Lariz who claims that she was a “Devoted Fan Of Singer Julio Iglesias”… I guess so to put that on your headstone you’d have to be! 🙂 Look, these people wouldn’t have written them if they didn’t want us to talk about them… they weren’t written to be overlooked. If you’ve enjoyed these tombstone tidbits then please pass them along to others who might enjoy reading and learning more about Key West’s unique final resting place. PS – I’ve got plenty more so don’t you dare creep out on me!
I’m Just Resting My Eyes
Abandoned Cemetery Cabins? These two rustic cabins are so out-of-place down here sticking out like a sore thumb compounded further by their unusual location. They’re the first houses across from the Historic Key West Cemetery’s main gate.
As you approach, getting closer your mind says “What the heck is that homemade cement & mirror fence-looking thing lining the front yard!”. I personally thought they were abandoned and began to walk around. As you can see by the photo below, I had walked all the way up to and onto the front porch for a tunnel type effect of both cabins picturesque overhangs. I’d completed my unsupervised self-guided tour of the property and began walking across the street to retrieve my bicycle when I saw the mailman pull up and put mail in the porch mailbox. To my amazement an elderly lady quickly came out and retrieved it. Wow was I stunned! I’d just walked all around her home and upon her porch. I swear I thought these were condemned abandoned cabins scheduled for a date with the wrecking ball! 🙂 And to think she was probably inside watching my every move! 🙂 Oh well, I hope that you don’t make the same mistake I did but do hope you take time to search these out because they are AWESOME looking and worth a photo when you’re already at the cemetery.
You Don’t Say! 🙂 ‘Dead End’ 100% TRUE, like it or not, it will happen to ALL OF US! Some blogs need no explaining… and this my friends is one of them!
P.S. – Notice the sign that says ‘One Way’… how true, there’s ONLY one way to get into a cemetery! 🙂
You can find this ironic yet humorous view of signs that literally interpret a final destination ‘Dead End’ here at the Key West Cemetery on its northern fence.
Historic Key West Cemetery
Welcome to Historic Key West Cemetery! Believe it or not, this is a one of Key West’s most well-known tourist attractions, so much that the Tour Guided Conch Trains come by here religiously!
In this multi-part blog you’ll read and learn about its history, its eclectic array of occupants, its unique one-of-a-kind burial sites, my family’s plot & The Crying Angel (just wait till you see this photo I took)!
For an introduction to one of my favorite places to visit in Key West… here is the inscription upon the historical marker at the cemeteries entrance (as seen above). Key West cemetery was founded in 1846 following a hurricane the previous year that destroyed the earlier cemetery located near present day Higgs Beach. To protect from future flooding the 19 acre cemetery was located here on Solares Hill, the highest natural elevation in Key West. An estimated 75,000 people are interred here (as of 2005), divided among parcels that reflect the cultural diversity that continues to characterize the city of Key West today. The cemetery contains a historic Catholic section, Jewish section, U.S.S. Maine plot dedicated in 1900, and the Los Martires de Cuba, a memorial for those who fought in the 1868 Cuban Revolution. In addition to these defined areas, African-Americans, Cubans and Americans, rich and poor, are interred throughout. In-ground and crypt style graves range from simple concrete copings filled with soil to elaborate monuments. Plot enclosures of wrought iron, wood, or concrete were often used to mark family plots. (As seen in the photo below of my family’s plot with the white concrete fence under the red Royal Poinciana Tree)
Located in the dead center of Key West, pardon the pun 🙂 , it’s open from dawn to dusk and is FREE. So So So WELL WORTH A TRIP TO SEE IT!