Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Hobby that Involves the Pursuit of Grave-ness

Stew Thornley has an interesting hobby. He's a "graveyard hunter." His own death is even a source for material, as he and his wife have posed in front of his future grave for their holiday cards. He got started with his hobby after visiting some famous graves a decade ago.

Thornley, a 52-year-old Roseville resident, has nurtured a preoccupation with "grave hunting" or "grave surfing" since 1997, when he and a friend visited the graves of President Benjamin Harrison and gangster John Dillinger in Indianapolis.

Since then, he has photographed hundreds of graves, including those of every buried U.S. president, vice president, Minnesota governor and practically all of the 200-plus Baseball Hall-of-Famers. He's also visited the sites of a slew of Civil War generals, movie stars and other celebrities - even victims of Charles Manson.
Thornley published a book dedicated to the graves of Minnesota's most famous' graves and is considering putting together another one on the resting places of well-known ex-baseball players. You might expect that someone who has spent so much time visiting these graves of the famous fallen would have some sort of emotional or philosophical connection to the deceased. You'd be wrong.
When visiting the grave of a celebrity, he said, "I've never really felt I'm connecting with greatness. It doesn't stir any emotions. It's just empty remains."

He views his own plot with no great reflection, either. He just admires gravestones the way one admires architecture, and he talks about good graveyards the way one describes fine parks.
As long as Thornley sticks to admiring the gravestones' architecture and not the texture of those buried underneath, we think this hobby toes the better side of the line between fascinating and creepy.

Look here for more celebrity grave locations.

[Dickinson Press]

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