Midwest Trip
August 2004


    If you think that our graveyard escapades were done for the year, you

may want to think twice. Two or three days after our return from New York, my

father and I were headed on a plane toward Cincinnati, Ohio. The plan was

simple: Within a period of three days, we had to travel through five states to

visit five presidential burial sites. The first one on our list was William Harrison,

who is buried in a village thirty miles from Cincinnati. After viewing several photos

on the internet, my father and I deciphered that the gate to Harrison's tomb

was usually locked. Several weeks in advance, he contacted the tomb's

caretakers and made an appointment so they could unlock the gate. Upon our

arrival, we drove to the tomb and were greeted by the caretakers, Mr. and Mrs.

Meyers. As the two unlocked the tomb, they expressed how impressed they

were that someone at my age was interested in American politics. Once inside,

they unlocked another gate that led us to the tomb. Inside, President and Mrs.

Harrison were entombed in what appeared to be a 19th century mausoleum.

While we took our photographs, Mrs. Meyers told us how Harrison's son, John

Scott Harrison, had his body stolen and taken to a medical school, but was

later found and taken to the tomb. After thoroughly thanking the couple for

unlocking the gate, we got in our rental car and drove South to Kentucky.

    Several hours later, we arrived in the city of Louisville, where President

Taylor's remains are located. Taylor's grave, located in a military cemetery

that bears his name, was easy to find amongst the small tombstones. Once we

exited our vehicle and walked up the path to his mausoleum, we were greeted

with the unfortunate fact that its doors were locked. With no way to get inside,

I was forced to settle with pictures of the tomb's exterior. Soon after, we left

the cemetery in an attempt to find another one, Cave Hill Cemetery. Cave Hill

holds the remains of famed business magnate Colonel Sanders, founder of

KFC. We were unable to locate the colonel's grave, even after stopping in one

of his restaurants to ask for directions. Unfazed, we jumped into the car and

travelled to Indianapolis. By the time we reached Indianapolis' Crown Hill

Cemetery it was nighttime and the gate was closed. While driving around town

trying to find a hotel, we discovered the Indiana State Fair and decided to join

the fun. I was personally enthralled by the fun house, especially after its

intoxicated operator began to let everyone in for free. Once we had our fill of

fun for the night, we continued our search for a hotel.

    When we woke up the following morning, we found that it was drizzling

outside. Luckily, we both were prepared and brought raincoats with us. After we

geared ourselves up, we set out for the cemetery. A sign outside announced

a wreath-laying ceremony that was taking place the following day. Surprised, I

opened a president book and discovered that we were visiting Benjamin

Harrison's grave on his 171st birthday. Since Crown Hill is one of the USA's

largest cemeteries, we knew we had no chance of finding the president's grave

on our own. We stopped at the office and grabbed a pamphlet, which revealed

Harrison's location. Arriving at the president's grave, we took a few photos and

hopped back in the car. Upon looking at the pamphlet further, we found out

that three vice presidents are also interred at Crown Hill. Figuring that we

might as well while we were there, we drove around and took photographs at

the burial sites of Thomas Hendricks, Charles Fairbanks, and Thomas 

Marshall. Before we left however, my father wanted to get his picture taken at

the grave of notorious bank robber John Dillinger. The name John Dillinger 

meant little to me, so I took my father's picture without asking him to 

reciprocate. What a mistake...

    Following our visit to Indianapolis, we traveled to Springfield, Illinois, the

"Land of Lincoln". The "Great Emancipator" is interred in the city's Oak Ridge

Cemetery, which was founded in 1855. While driving down a long road inside

the cemetery, we were struck by Lincoln's huge monument, which includes a

117 foot tall obelisk. Excited, I exited the rental car and walked the remaining

distance to the tomb. Once my father gathered the cameras and caught up with

me, we walked up the front entranceway to the president's final resting place.

The first thing that hit us was a large sculpture of Lincoln's head positioned near

the doorway. Typically, visitors to the tomb rub the figure's nose before

entering, which has discolored that part of the sculpture over time. I was not

tall enough to reach the sculpture, so my father lifted me up to touch it, despite 

the fact that his broken arm was not completely healed. Entering the structure,

we walked passed several miniature statues of Lincoln in crowded hallways

before reaching the burial room. Inside are the remains of the entire Lincoln

family minus the eldest son. Though most of the tomb was elaborate, the

president's marble marker simply stated his name and his lifespan. Awestruck,

we took our pictures, exited the tomb, and began to wander the grounds of

the cemetery.

    The following day was very eventful. It was the last full day of the trip,

and we still had another burial site to get to. In addition, there were several

Springfield sites we desired to see, such as the Old State House and Lincoln's

home, both of which we accomplished. We walked over to see Lincoln's Library

and museum, but it was not yet complete at the time of our visit. With time

running out, we got in the car and headed for Iowa. It was mid-afternoon when

we reached the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. We were in

the museum for approximately an hour when we entered the gift shop.

Wandering around, we came upon two interesting items: A photo album with the

presidential seal and a book titled Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb? by C-Span

founder Brian Lamb. We purchased the album and two copies of the book and

drove the car over to a nearby incline where President and Mrs. Hoover are 

buried. Once we reached the top, we were struck by how peaceful and remote 

the setting was. Or at least we were until a truck driver blasted his horn on a 

nearby highway. Hoover once proclaimed that he would like to be buried with an

unobstructed view of his birthplace, which we visited next. The small house was 

just closing, and we walked through only for a few moments.

    Upon returning to our hotel, the two of us decided to wind everything down and
we each used our own method of relaxation. He sat down and read his new book
while I swam in the hotel pool.

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