October is the perfect month to visit the Sacramento Historic Old City Cemetery. Located at Riverside Drive and Broadway (just off the Capitol City Freeway; across from Target). Something about Halloween at the end of the month stirs interest in all things dead and decaying. In the autumn with the roses almost spent and leaves gathering on the ground, it fits one’s mood to take a walking tour of a cemetery.
The Sacramento Historic Old City Cemetery is the oldest cemetery still in operation west of the Mississippi River. The oldest gravestone is for a man who died in 1849, but was probably erected later since no one had time during the gold rush to carve such an elaborate headstone when there was your fortune to be found.
There are many great stories and if you can, sign up for one of the guided tours from the volunteers with the Old City Cemetery Committee. They enjoy researching the “residents” of the cemetery and telling their stories. With an estimated 30,000 people buried, there are many stories. There are prominent people in history, of course, but also the many graves from a cholera epidemic. There is a section for firemen, and a section for Civil War veterans. There is also an archive in the old chapel where you can research your own family tree or find someone buried in the graveyard. For more information about tours, or access to the archives: http://www.oldcitycemetery.com.
The cemetery also attracts many gardeners–some to admire the plants including pioneer roses–and others to volunteer through the “adopt a plot” program.
Self-guided tours are available during regular hours. Closed Wednesdays and Thursdays; March through October: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; October through March: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enter at 10th Street and Broadway and make a small donation for a brochure with map.