Whose Your Tourist?

I know I promised exurbia, but now I promise this is a lot more fun!

20 years ago (1994 if anyone is counting), I made my one-and-only pilgrimage to a celebrity gravesite. It was easy to find Jim Morrison’s final resting place in Pere Lachaise back then: we just traced the steps of the departing white kids with dreadlocks all the way back to the headstone. Well…now that I mention it, I also looked at Edith Piaf’s grave while there. Below is a fuzzy photo of a photo of Jim Morrison’s grave in ’94. It says, “James Douglas Morrison; 1943-1971,” followed by some Greek lettering which, according to the internet, means “true to his own spirit.”


Which brings us to this past weekend, during which I met my friends Jodi and Alex in Fairmount, Indiana, our home state, to see yet another celebrity grave, that of yet another famous James.

We also indulged in our nerdy hobby of geocaching, which is an entire Places and Spaces blog all its own, for another place and space.

Right here in our very own backyard (or thereabouts) lie the remains of James Dean. Now that we’ve been halfway around the world and back to see Jim Morrison, it was time to travel to see this Hoosier homeslice. On the way there, I stopped for a break in Greentown, Indiana, and decided I was in a part of the state that is at once heartbreakingly charming and unbelievably creepy to anyone who doesn’t live there. I asked Jodi to meet me at the parking lot closest to the coordinates of the welcome sign. Good thing there was a parking lot. Driving up to the coordinates, I began to worry. Here we are at the welcome sign.


A very old article about the Garfield connection can be found here and warrants more exploration, possibly another trip sometime soon.

After a delicious lunch at the (very) nearby restaurant, The Outpost, we were frustrated by our failed attempt to find a geocache at the welcome sign itself. Moving along, we were able to follow the directions to James Dean’s headstone, both pictured below.



Oh, the miracles of photography in the digital age!

I was appropriately impressed.

Here, however, is what you didn’t know about Grant County: around the corner from this shiny gravesite, down two scary ruts in the grass, on private property and past a stand of wild rhubarb, Isaac Suddeth is also buried. See below.


The inscription on this headstone says, “Continental line.” The date: 1851.

Here again, I was appropriately impressed.

I am glad I undertook this exploration and dug into the history and scenery of Indiana.


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