The Abandoned Dutch Reform Church Cemetery – Beacon, New York - Atlas Obscura
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Beacon, New York

The Abandoned Dutch Reform Church Cemetery

This abandoned cemetery is crumbling into ruin, exposing the artifacts and bodies buried there. 

Sitting atop a hill overlooking the Hudson River, the old Reformed Dutch church of Fishkill Landing has been ministering to the local parishioners of Beacon, NY since 1859. Still operating today, the Victorian Gothic church is the oldest in the charming upstate town. But hidden in the woods behind the idyllic church, the town’s cemetery lies in ghostly ruins.

Most of the gravestones date from the Victorian era, but with the most recent burial dating to the 1920s. Almost all of them have toppled over from neglect. Built into the steep hill leading from the church down to the river are the old vaults once reserved for some of Beacon’s most venerable families. But whilst perpetual care has maintained the mausoleums of other such New York cemeteries as Greenwood in Brooklyn, the vaults of the old Reform church lie broken into. The stone chambers inside have collapsed leaving actual human skeletons on display. In one vault, a gold ring lies cast aside next to an antiquated bow tie. It seems not as though they have been desecrated, but have simply been allowed to fall apart. 

With the church on top of the hill still opening its doors every Sunday, the old cemetery below continues to disintegrate. Visits to historic cemeteries are often filled with unusual tombstones with peculiar stories behind them. But the old graveyard hidden behind the Dutch Reform church, with its broken-open vaults, might be the most haunting of them all.

Know Before You Go

The church is closed and locked except for NA meetings and service on Sunday. The cemetery is behind the church and down a steep hill; however, there are "No Trespassing" signs and an orange mesh gate blocking the way.