If you keep your eyes open when driving on Springhill Road just south of Tallahassee International Airport, you might notice a small break in the security fence. Turn in, drive up between the fences marked with numerous signs proclaiming “Restricted Area,” and you’ll soon see the gravestones of the cemetery around which the airport built its runways.
Known as Airport Cemetery, it is believed to be the site of what was once a pauper’s graveyard. Only about 15 graves are marked with stones, but the southern part of the cemetery is marked with numerous sunken depressions, indicating about another 20 or so graves. The oldest decipherable headstone belongs to the Rev. L. D. Elliott, who died in 1922.
The “Restricted Area” signs on the fencing are to keep visitors off the runways and airport property, but the cemetery is open to the public. And though there are no signs to indicate the ownership of the land or the cemetery, recent burial records indicate that the site is also known by another name: New Salem (Missionary Baptist Church) Cemetery, and burials have been conducted here as recently as July of 2015. The few graves with headstones mostly face away from the start of Runway 27, with a perfect view of the planes coming in for a landing.
Update May 2020: Visitors report that new markers indicate that at least five people have been in 2020.
Know Before You Go
Off Springhill Rd, about a quarter mile southwest of the intersection of Capital Circle SW.