Salt Lake Cemetery

Last week in church, a new friend overheard me telling someone else that one of my favorite things in New Orleans is the cemeteries. This is a case where eavesdropping paid off because it led to a few of us getting together last Monday night to explore Salt Lake’s best cemetery. The Salt Lake Cemetery is the final resting place of prophets and apostles and pioneers. We went armed with a map of the burial place of some of the Church’s most notable members. Here’s the monument for President David O. McKay, who led the church from 1951-1970. (And behind it, you can just make out President Hinckley’s monument.)

I love the monumental size of it. I should have had someone stand next to it for scale, but it’s huge! I also love that it’s simple. It’s also a great little spot for resting and pondering.

President Howard W. Hunter’s marker, by contrast, is very unassuming.

But could you ask for a better epitaph?

Early Mormon family burials can be very interesting, too, because of polygamy. Here’s the grave of Joseph F. Smith and some of his wives.

I found it interesting that the first, third, and fourth wives were all listed on the back of this gravemarker….

while the second wife got the prime spot on the front. Maybe it’s because she had the most kids.

Something that I very much dislike about the Salt Lake Cemetery, though, is that during the sesquicentennial someone thought it would be a great idea to go around and put these tacky pioneer plaques on all the gravestones of people who crossed the plains with the pioneer. Ugh, they are so ugly! And ruin the beauty of the markers! Take a look at this example:

This marker features one of my all-time favorite graveyard symbols, the hand clasp. And it’s also interesting because the clasp is between the two graves instead of just on one, which opens up some beautiful interpretations. But it is almost ruined by the presence of those tacky faux brass plaques. They are all over!

I also found it interesting that someone (or some people) have started replacing some of the oldest markers with newer ones. For example:

At least the newer one is placed discreetly below the old one. And I do like that it makes it easier to read, but it just kind of takes away the charm. Just a little.

I liked this golden tombstone.

Turns out, it was made of laquered wood. It’s rather unique. And then, of course, there are the lovely gravemarkers. (Despite working for a company that owned cemeteries and funeral homes for almost three years, I still struggle with my cemetery terminology. I’m never sure what to call things.)

I couldn’t help but feel like the cemetery still doesn’t quite compare to the ones in New Orleans, but it does have something that New Orleans just can’t replicate — an amazing view of the Salt Lake Valley.

I love how cemeteries are a little peak at hundreds of people who once lived. Even though there’s not much to a gravestone, there’s often just enough information about someone to stir the imagination. I liked thinking about these people and what their lives were like. I know that Lillian Shirley K. Little loved music.

And apparently, this teenager (sad!) was a Dr. Pepper lover.

I think Bonnie is still climbing every mountain in search of her dreams. I hope she finds them before she comes to rest here.

We weren’t the only ones at the cemetery last Monday. There was a little family there, probably having family home evening.

And a tour group hanging around Porter Rockwell’s monument.

We saw quite a bit as we wandered around, but the sun was starting to set.

It was time to leave. I guess I’ll just have to go back again. I still want to find Wallace Stegner’s relatives.



  1. Naomi · May 15, 2012

    This is one of my favorites spots in SLC.

  2. Amanda · May 16, 2012

    Katie I love that you photograph cemeteries. I don’t think I’ve ever visited the SLC cemetery. That was really interesting. I loved the epitaph for Pres. Hunter. He was one of the prophets that influenced me the most. I was so sad when he passed on. Also I’d never thought about people dying building the SLC temple. Sorry y’all for my ignorance/naivety. Thanks Katie:)

  3. Pingback: Brigham Young’s Grave |
  4. Kristy Campbell Jackson · May 25, 2012

    Katie, this post is so interesting! I love all your insights and the things you notice in cemeteries. I always like visiting them too.

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