I don’t remember when I first read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, but it remained one of my favourite books when I was growing up. I watched many of the different movie versions that have been made throughout the years, but my favourite remains the Winona Ryder version that came out in 1994. As a result, I seem to have always known about Concord, Massachusetts, a little about transcendentalism, and Walden Pond. Of course, Concord had other majority literary figures who lived there around the same time period as the Alcotts, like Henry David Thoreau (Walden), Ralph Waldo Emerson (Nature), and Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Scarlett Letter).
I had originally planned a half- to full-day here, visiting the various authors’ homes and Revolutionary War sites, but due to a variety of factors (Labour Day weekend, traffic, getting lost and ending up in Concord instead of Plymouth (it’s a long story)) I only had a couple of hours here in the late afternoon, which in the end meant that I only had time to visit the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, which was a welcome and quiet respite after hours of traffic and the stress of driving on the Interstate (!).
The cemetery was fairly easy to find but it was difficult to find parking. Luckily, it being a Sunday meant that there was some free public parking within walking distance of the cemetery. The cemetery is quite long and narrow, and is situated on a small rolling hillside. It was fairly easy to get around, and the well-maintained lawns meant it was easy to stroll and look at some of the older stones on the higher reaches of the hill. There were a lot of small American flags at the graves of soldiers or notable people – I’m not sure if this is the practice year-round, or for holidays (although I don’t think that Labor Day marks any special military event). I haven’t seen that kind of patriotism in any other cemetery around the world (save, of course, military cemeteries).
It’s a bit unfortunate that I had so little time in the area. I would have liked to have spent more time in this and other cemeteries, and seen more of the town, the literary houses, Walden Pond, and the Revolutionary sites, but after two days of intense travel and very little sleep, it just wasn’t to be.
Monuments: Simple, plain markers are the rule here, with little to no statuary here at all (save the monument at the top of this post).
Grounds: Easy to get around, some stairs (to author’s ridge). It’s possible to drive within the cemetery, as most of the visitors to author’s ridge seem to do.
Visitors: Other than the handful of tourists visiting the graves of the famous writers, I didn’t really see anyone else at the cemetery.
Cemetery: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Established: September 29 , 1855. The opening address was given by Emerson himself.
Notable Internments: It’s well-known for its Author’s Ridge: Alcott, Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau are all buried close to each other
Location: 34A Bedford Street, Concord, MA
Hours: 07:00-19:00 daily