Obscura Society SF: The Lost Cemetery of Lands End - Atlas Obscura

San Francisco, California

Obscura Society SF: The Lost Cemetery of Lands End

A night of tombstone hunting and history at the former City Cemetery

Beneath the manicured putting greens and fairways of the Lincoln Park Golf Course, beneath the stately pillars and majestic art of the Legion of Honor, lie perhaps thousands of bodies. In the early 1900s, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors ordered the City Cemetery (also known as Golden Gate Cemetery) to be moved, the estimated 18,000 corpses exhumed and reburied in Colma.

Except, just like an overused horror movie trope, it seems that didn't quite happen. The tombstones were moved but apparently not all the bodies. In 1993, the Legion of Honor museum began a renovation and expansion, and literally dug up hundreds of bodies that were never relocated. Archaeologists did a limited survey and determined it was the remnants of a pauper's cemetery, filled with the poor, the elderly, dockworkers, Chinese immigrants, and even cadavers from medical schools. It's unknown how many graves remain underneath Lincoln Park, but the number is suspected to be quite large.

The affable John Martini, historian and former National Park Ranger, will lead us on an evening tour of Lincoln Park, visiting and discussing the surviving grave markers, sharing spooky imagery, and regaling us with the history of this cemetery and San Francisco's changing relationship with the dead.

Notes for this adventure:

  • This is an evening tour that will end after dark.
  • Flashlights highly recommended.
  • It consists of a non-strenuous ¾ mile walk.
  • It can get pretty cold, foggy, and blustery at Lincoln Park. Dress according to the weather forecast.
  • We meet at the corner of 34th Ave. & Clement St.

Advanced tickets required. All ticket sales are final, although you are welcome to transfer tickets. Refunds will be given in case of severe weather.