Are you a “tombstone tourist”? Taphophiles are cemetery enthusiasts, people who enjoy visiting cemeteries to read epitaphs, photograph monuments and research historic deaths. Tombstone tourists will find opportunities to do all these things plus experience some of the best views in town and an abundance of wildlife at Spring Hill Cemetery Park & Arboretum.
The largest municipal cemetery complex in West Virginia, Spring Hill Cemetery Historic District encompasses 172 acres in the rolling hills overlooking Charleston’s East End. Commonly known as Spring Hill, the district includes five cemeteries: Spring Hill Cemetery (established 1869), Mountain View Cemetery, B’nai Israel Cemetery, Lowenstein Cemetery and Mount Olivet Cemetery.
The cemetery holds the graves of West Virginia Governors William A. MacCorkle (1857-1930) and George W. Atkinson (1845-1925). Other notable graves include Civil War and Revolutionary War officers, and early industry and civic leaders and settlers in the Kanawha Valley.
Originally intended by its Victorian planners as a park-like place for quiet walks and meditation, Spring Hill continues to be a favorite destination for walkers, bird watchers and lovers of art and local history.
The cemetery is known for its beautiful monuments. Highlights include a colossal sandstone acorn at the Littlepage memorial in section 47. In the Scruggs addition, stone markers are fashioned in the form of tree stumps. And in the Mountain View section, poems, in epitaph form, are inscribed upon the flat limestone markers at the graves of Walter E. Clark and wife. Several granite, limestone and marble obelisks rising to a height of 30 feet or more mark the graves of prominent West Virginians, and elegant stone angels can be spotted throughout the park.
Five miles of paved road wind through the cemetery, ideal for walking, running and bicycling. Four self-guided history walks highlight important historical figures interred here. For bird watchers, the Handlan Chapter of Brooks Bird Club has compiled a list of species, resident and transient, identified at the park.
The cemetery is home to the largest arboretum in West Virginia. The Mary Price Ratrie Arboretum boasts several champion trees (the largest-known specific tree species in the state), among the 112 individual tree species of its 1,400 trees.
For more information, visit the City of Charleston’s Spring Hill page.