Looking for somewhere to spend Eternity? Look no further than the Key West Cemetery. If you’d like to preview your everlasting rest stop, start at the entrance at Passover Lane and Angela St. and pick up a free map at the office.
The cemetery was built in 1847 after the original cemetery was washed away in a hurricane a year earlier. Bodies were discharged from the sandy graves and drifted down the street. Some reported that even after the waters subsided, there were bodies stuck in trees around the city. To prevent the horrors of the flood, the new cemetery was built on the highest ground in Key West. Some of the new gravesites are above ground like in New Orleans.
Walking around the cemetery gives you the impression that this is it’s own little city. Populated by the dead, chickens and iguanas.
Here lie the graves of Key West’s famous residents. See if you can find “Sloppy Joe” Russell, Hemingway’s fishing guide and famous bartender. Popular epitaphs located around the grounds showcase the eccentricities of the Key West population.
If you “Remember the Maine” stop near the entrance where there is a fenced in area that contains the remains, known and unknown of many of the 260 sailors killed in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898. An explosion occurred by accident and not a Spanish mine, as was originally thought. William Randolph Hearst and other newspapers shouted ‘Remember the Maine!’ and was the beginning of US involvement in the Spanish-American War.
Visit the grave of Norm Taylor aka Captain Outrageous. He legally changed his name to run as mayor of Key West. Visitors to the gravesite often leave offerings of Mardi Gras beads to let him know that he is remembered.
A giant Florida Conch marks the grave of Sir Peter Anderson, Secretary General of The Conch Republic. Sir Peter was one of those colorful people that made Duval Street so much fun.
As you wander among the graves and enjoy the sun bleached marble headstones, look carefully and pick out your future spot.
The Friends of Key West Cemetery website has information on the famous and infamous buried here. Check it out below…
A memorial to Captain Outrageous can be found here…