top of page
Butterfly Collage

Exploring the Potential of Taphophile Tourism in Massena NY

Nestled in the serene landscape of the North Country in New York, the small town of Massena quietly harbors a unique opportunity within its seven cemeteries. These sacred grounds, steeped in history and art, present an untapped avenue for taphophile tourism—a growing interest in cemetery exploration that could significantly benefit this community.

Each of Massena's cemeteries, varying in age and character, unfolds a unique narrative through its tombstones and memorials. The older graveyards, with their weathered and intricately carved headstones, speak of the town's early days, while the more recent burial grounds reflect contemporary histories and memorial styles. Together, these sites form a mosaic of eras, each contributing its distinct voice to the town's historical chorus. More than mere final resting places, they are repositories of rich history and culture. Embracing taphophile tourism could attract visitors keen to immerse themselves in the serene beauty and diverse historical narratives these cemeteries encapsulate.

Gravesites at Massena Center Cemetery in NY, taphophile tourism, taphophilia, tombstone tourist
Gravesites at Massena Center Cemetery in NY

The allure of cemetery visits is multifaceted and extends beyond traditional interests. For some, it's the historical journey, a chance to connect with stories from centuries past. Others find the artistic expressions and symbolism in tombstone designs captivating, reflecting the changing societal norms and artistic movements through time.

Author and Anthropologist, Amanda Woomer recently released a book, A Mortal's Guide to Cemeteries, "to encourage people to go out and interact with their local history in the form of cemeteries." Woomer believes that our society as a whole is starting to embrace the death positivity movement. "Visiting cemeteries is a great way to do that," she continues. "Not only is it a living, breathing museum where you can come this close to history, but it's also a great way to... introduce yourself, in a safe environment, to the the concept of death and mortality and grief... I think cemetery tourism is fantastic and I hope it continues to grow and thrive."

Philena Kinney Daughter of a Revolutionary Soldier - Pine Grove Cemetery - Massena NY
Philena Kinney Daughter of a Revolutionary Soldier - Pine Grove Cemetery - Massena NY

For centuries, cemeteries have been popular spots for picnicking and going on walks. This tradition continues today, with places like Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, GA, evolving into popular hangouts for activities such as picnicking, leisurely strolls, photography, and guided tours. Alongside these traditional uses, cemeteries have also become venues for geocaching, a GPS-based activity that combines outdoor adventure with a treasure hunt, further diversifying their appeal. This modern twist on exploration adds an interactive element to the cemetery experience, attracting a wide range of visitors. Additionally, many people are drawn to cemeteries for the quietude and contemplative atmosphere they offer, providing a peaceful respite from the daily clamor. Hint hint: there is one located at Massena Center Cemetery!

In Massena, initiatives like those by AfterLife Investigators are already paving the way for this niche tourism. Their paranormal tours add a layer of intrigue to the exploration of these historic sites, drawing visitors keen on experiencing the mystical side of these hallowed grounds. Their work, detailed at AfterLife Investigators, exemplifies how such tourism can be both respectful and enriching.

For a small town like Massena, the economic implications of taphophile tourism are promising. It could stimulate local businesses, from eateries to lodging, and foster a market for unique souvenirs. Beyond economics, it promotes the preservation of these historical sites, ensuring their stories continue to be told.

Massena Center Cemetery, gravestones, cemetery, taphophile tourism
Massena Center Cemetery located in NY

Balancing tourism with the reverence these sites demand is crucial. Thoughtful approaches like educational tours and guided walks can offer meaningful experiences while upholding the dignity of these spaces.

Massena's seven cemeteries, with their potential to bridge past and present, could position the town as a leader in a respectful, insightful form of tourism. This approach is not unique to Massena; small and rural towns across the country can similarly benefit from this type of tourism. States like Kentucky are already embracing this trend with initiatives such as the Kentucky After Dark program, which features a passport system to enhance the exploration of spooky sites. This program exemplifies how structured, engaging activities can enrich the visitor experience in dark tourism.

As interest in cemetery exploration grows, Massena, like Kentucky with its innovative approach, stands on the cusp of transforming its historical sites into portals of discovery. These sites offer more than just a connection to the past; they provide a unique opportunity for towns to showcase their heritage and stories, turning them into vibrant hubs of cultural and historical tourism.

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page