After reading Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary,” Redditor and data visualisation expert Joshua Stevens set out to map 144,847 graveyards and cemeteries in the contiguous United States, creating a map he titled “The Geography of the Dead.“
It shows some startling results.
The map – which is compiled by data from the Bureau of Labour and Statistics and the US Census Bureau – clearly depicts that the eastern part of the country has the most cemeteries. From the East Coast to the Midwest, the map is speckled with red dots representing grave sites. The most clustered area is in the South, specifically in Tennessee and North Carolina.
Stevens believes there is an obvious reason for this.
“Right away I was struck by the geography,” he wrote about the map. “The pattern, however, makes a great deal of sense in the context of American history. Some of the deadliest battles of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars took place in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.”
As we move west, the map has significantly fewer red dots and therefore fewer cemeteries. This could be because, at the time of westward expansion, the country was not participating in a war on American soil.
While doing his research, Stevens found some interesting factoids.
First, he was shocked to learn that there are some places in the country that have no living population but still has cemeteries. He says “only the dead sleep here.”
The white dots on the map point out such areas.
Secondly, Stevens said he realised that “the cost of dying” has drastically increased over the decades. It is much more expensive to die today than was back in the day, according to the Bureau of Labour and Statistics. He says that more people than ever are being cremated, hypothesizing that this is because it is cheaper, and people are becoming less religious.
Stevens explained the results of his research are a great indication for the future.
“We are separated from the dead by time, and with time comes space,” he said. “As the center of our population slows its westward march toward equilibrium, I suspect the graveyards do the same.”
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