Colma, California: City of Souls

By: Funeralwise | Date: Thu, January 28th, 2016

Colma, California
Colma, Calif., Is a Town of 2.2 Square Miles, Most of It 6 Feet Deep Photo by: By CAROL POGASH via the New York Times.

Colma, California is a quiet town at the northern end of the San Francisco peninsula. If you know about the town then you are hardly surprised that not much goes on there. Not much having to do with the living, that is. You see, most of Colma’s residents reside in graveyards. According to the most recent numbers, there are 1,400 living residents and 1.5 million people buried in the town’s 16 cemeteries.

For 75 years, Colma, Calif., has been steadily collecting bodies and it’s constantly getting deader. As of 2009, the city had 1,500 living residents and 1.5 million marked graves. Seventy-three percent of Colma’s land belongs to the dead with the rest occupied by people who have a great sense of humor. The town’s motto: “It’s Great To Be Alive In Colma.” (Welcome to the Town of the Dead.)

Why does Colma have so many cemeteries? According to the town’s Historical Association, it goes back to the Gold Rush when San Francisco’s cemeteries were becoming overcrowded and the land was too valuable to be used for cemeteries.

In the late 1880s, cemetery owners started looking for new property to bury their dead as San Francisco’s cemeteries were full. The southern end of Colma was chosen because of transportation. There was easy access by horse and carriage by way of Mission Street, street cars ran from San Francisco to Colma, trains were going along side the cemeteries and most all having stops at each cemetery.

There are numerous notable people buried in Colma. Among them, Joe DiMaggio, William Randolph Hearst, and Wyatt Earp.

Colma California Resources


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