Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Visiting Kane's Tomb


The next entry in my series of intriguing Pennsylvania graves (caged graves, the ticking tomb, multiple graves for Anthony Wayne) is a salute to Dr. Elisha Kane, the romantic hero of my novel, We Hear the Dead.

Located in Laurel Hill Cemetery, in the middle of Philadelphia, this mausoleum is the resting place of the most beloved adventurer of the mid-19th century, as well as a few of his relatives. I made a pilgrimage to see it when I reached the conclusion of my first draft.

When I say the middle of Philadelphia, I mean right smack in the middle of a tough neighborhood. When my husband and I wandered into the cemetery office, we were greeted by a girl behind a bullet proof window. She nodded knowledgably when we explained that we were there to see Kane’s grave, and circled the location on a map, which she slid through a crack in the glass. “You can’t get to the tomb,” she said. “You’ll have to look through the fence.” We stared at her in disbelief, disappointed and rather confused. “It’s for your own safety,” she explained. “You’ll see.”

We followed the map through the cemetery and eventually reached a tall, chain-link fence. Walking along the length of it, still confused, we eventually spotted the Kane tomb -- and yes, we could see the girl’s point. The dark stone monument is built into the side of a steep hill and partly obscured by grass covering the entire roof. A narrow stone path leads down to the entrance, but one false step and a visitor could tumble headlong down the rocky incline and onto East River Drive. A couple of bounces and – assuming he wasn’t hit by a speeding car – the unlucky visitor might roll off the highway, plummet down another few hundred feet, and plunge into the Schuykill River. It’s a precarious location for a mausoleum to say the least, although it commands a stunning view.

I had come out of curiosity and to pay my respects, but once I’d seen the tomb’s location, I knew I would have to re-write one of the scenes in my book to better match reality. According to historical record, Elisha Kane took Maggie Fox to visit his family mausoleum as part of a romantic carriage ride during their courtship. Supposedly, he pointed out the tomb as his future resting place and informed her that the future Mrs. Kane would rest there as well. He was, of course, broadly hinting she was under consideration for that choice slab of granite!

A romantic date in a graveyard. What a guy! All right, blog readers, here’s a question for you – have you ever had a romantic interlude in a cemetery? Or, alternatively, have you ever been on a date to a place stranger than this?

Astute blog readers might notice that the picture above does not look as if it were taken through a fence. I’m not going to reveal how that was done, but I will mention that if you are serious about keeping people on one side of a fence, you should spring for a padlock instead of just looping a loose chain around the bars of the gate.

16 comments:

  1. In the middle of Philadelphia? I wandered around the site of Franklin's former shop and Washington's church. They told me THAT was the middle of Philadelphia. Was I close?

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  2. Your blog is wonderfully WITTY and I cannot wait to check out your book. I must say, the cover is one of my favorites from this year!

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  3. Oh, dear. Had to asnwer this one. Maybe I should be anonymous? (Cover the eyes of children).

    My summer boyfriend when I was a junior in HS always parked (ahem) in a cemetary. Not much used and wooded, so it was quite private.

    Not sure if that's romance or just plain old lust.

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  4. Kane's tomb looks like where my 16yr-old is going to be living if he doesn't clean his laundry off his floor!! Squeezze, Dianne. ";-)

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  5. Well now I'm VERY intrigued about your book, I must go check it out.

    Romantic interlude in a cemetery? Um, no. I am the world's biggest chicken! I hate to even drive past a cemetery. This was a fun post :)

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  6. Wow, sounds like a crazy location!

    As for the question, I don't know if it was technically a date, but my husband and I spent Valentine's Day milking cows :)

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  7. I have had a romantic interlude of sorts in a cemetery! An old high school boyfriend of mine fancied himself a ghost hunter. He took me to a cemetery after dark on one of our dates and proceeded to freak me out. We left the place running because there was (supposedly) an angry spirit after us. I'm pretty sure he got a good kick out that.

    LOVE the cover of your book, BTW!

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  8. Looks like the kind of place where a rich guy keeps the lawn mower.

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  9. Oh, wow! That is quite a trek to pay your respects.
    No romantic interludes at cemeteries thank goodness. I am quite the chicken.
    My son, however, went to preschool career day as a gravedigger. That is what he wanted to be when he was three years old! I sent him in overalls and a plastic shovel!

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  10. Ha ha! Romantic date at the graveyard. Too funny. Can't wait to get my hands on this book!

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  11. Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

    I feel as if I have to say, in Kane's defense, that it was a very pretty graveyard and probably a perfectly respectable to place to take a carriage ride in the 1850's!

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  12. I have made out in a graveyard with my husband, back in England. It was quite the eerie graveyard as well, extremely old, behind a stone church...come to think of it, next time I go back (it's in the village he grew up in) I'll have to go sit around that church and see if I get any inspiration. It's full of personality...is that wrong to say of a graveyard?

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  13. I love the sound of your book, Dianne! So spooky and weird! Love it! Good luck!

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  14. Nooky near the dead,
    Some find that hot?
    Um, I dunno,
    Well, okay, why not?

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  15. You and Bob are such Rule Breakers Dianne! LOL! Loved the post, sorry I'm just now getting to it. And LOOK at all those author dates - now THAT is a clear benefit of traditional publishing! You go girl :)

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