|Grant's Tomb New York, NY|
Presidential Gravesites seen on this trip: #26 Theodore Roosevelt Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY 36 of 38
#18 Ulysses S. Grant New York, NY 37 of 38
#22 and #24 Grover Cleveland Princeton, NJ 38 of 38
Presidential Gravesite revisits: #32 Franklin D. Roosevelt Hyde Park, NY
#26 Theodore Roosevelt Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY
#15 James Buchanen Lancaster, PA
#13 Millard Fillmore Buffalo, NY
Only 10 short weeks passed from my March TN / St. Louis trip to my June NY/NJ trip. It was a busy 10 weeks of ups and downs. But knowing that I would complete my quest of visiting every Presidential Gravesite on this trip was very exciting. In the last week leading up to the trip my nephew Christopher, who just graduated High School was able to come along. After helping lead his quiz bowl team to the National competition in Atlanta, Chris is as much a history buff as I am, if not more so. So it was great to have him along with my parents, wife and kids.
Dad got off of work early on Saturday June 9th. We were on the road by 9am. Our goal for the day was to drive out to our home for the week. A house we got through Mom and Dads time share. We got out there by 5pm and started to settle in. The place was beautiful! Our rental house was alot bigger then anticipated and the surrounding scenery was amazing to! Our place was near East Stroudesburg, PA. Right along the Delaware River, with a nice view of New Jersey on the other side of the river. We did have a problem though and some of us spent much of the night at the local ER. All was well when we got back to the rental house a little after midnight. Mom and Dad decided to take it easy at the rental house the next day, and to keep the kids with them.
June 10, 2012 Theodore Roosevelt
With Mom, Dad and the kids staying at the rental house, that just left Chris, my wife and I for the days adventure. We left the rental house at 6 am and started heading towards New York City. My original plan was to see TR's Sagamore Hill on Long Island, then TR's grave, then Grant's Tomb on the north end of NYC. After that I was going to start heading north and hit a couple of cemeteries, hoping to run into a couple of friends along the way. Then drive to New Haven, CT for some Bush related sites. But after the late night at the ER a decided to cut out New Haven, and head back after the cemeteries.
We arrived in Oyster Bay on Long Island around 8:30 am. We came upon Youngs Memorial Cemetery before we got to Sagamore Hill. We stopped quickly at the cemetery to discover that the gate was locked. I wasn't to worried since the sign said that it would be open at 9. We continued onto Sagamore Hill. We weren't able to tour Sagamore Hill, due to them recently starting a 2 to 3 year renovation. But we wandered the property for a little bit. We made it back down to the cemetery around 9:30 and this time were very annoyed to find that the cemetery gate was still locked. Not sure what to do, I considered jumping the gate. But my wife was in the van, texting me that the local cops kept cicleing the area. Chris and I snuck into the nature preserve next door. Then I saw it up on the hill. TR's grave! We proceded to climb a very steep hill only to be stopped by a fence about 10 feet away from the inner fence surrounding TR's grave. This fence was near transparent, as I didn't see it when I first started the hike up the hill. I thought about jumping, but again, my phone was ringing like crazy with text from my wife, worried that we were going to get arrested. I got what pics that I could and we continued onto Grant's Tomb. It continued to eat at me that I didn't get a better view of TR's grave. So I would eventually rearrange my scheduel later in the week so that I could see TR's gravesite properly.
|Theodore Roosevelt Youngs Memorial Cemtery Oyster Bay, NY|
June 10, 2012 Ulysses S. Grant
We left Oyster Bay and headed for Grant's Tomb, o:n the northern end of Manhattan, New York City. In our travels, my wife has became a very good navigator. But she was terrified of navigating around NYC. But it honestly wasn't as bad as I thought it may be. We got back into Manhattan with little trouble, and then we got off of the Interstate and started driving on the streets. Again it wasn't to bad. But the intimidation factor of NYC was clearly getting to my navigator. Especially when dozens of people on bicycles started weaving in and out of traffic with me and the other cars. I will admit, that made me a little nervous also. Hoping I wouldn't accidentially hit one of them, or all of them.
We approached Grant's Tomb from the north and could see it a few blocks away. Not sure what parking would be like next to the Tomb. We took a parking spot on a bridge just north of the Tomb. Now I heard that Grant's Tomb was big, but it was still bigger then anticipated. We got up to the door to the Tomb and found it to be locked. I went down to the nearby National Park Service headquarters and the Park Ranger told us that the door would reopen at Noon. I looked at the time. It was 11:15. My wife then said, "We aren't really going to wait that long, are we?!" I then said something along the lines of, "You bet your ass we are!" After the dissappointment of TR's gravesite, I wasn't about to miss going into Grant's Tomb. We sat down in the visitors center and heard the Park Ranger talk about Grant, and the Tomb until it was time to reopen the Tomb's door. We finally went inside the Tomb and found it to be a very nice, respectable Monument to a man who was pivotal in preserving the Union. The large Tomb reminded me of McKinley and Garfield's Tombs. All 3 Tomb were built within 25 years or so. It was definatly the Victorian age thing to make things big.
After Grant's Tomb we started heading for Woodlawn Cemtery in the Bronx. But somehow the GPS died on us in a major intersection and we ended up New Jersey bound on the George Washington Bridge. At this point I wasn't about to turn around in New Jersey and pay another 12 bucks to cross back into New York. So I started to think, Now what? I remembered that Grover Clevelands birthplace was nearby, and that they were open that day. Unlike the next day, when I originally was planning on seeing it. So after eating some Chipotle. We took a nice tour of Grover Clevelands Birthplace in Caldwell, NJ. Which was something that I originally didn't think that I would get to do. So in the end, that worked out well.
We then headed back to the rental house, and took the kids swimming.
|Gravesite of Ulysses and Julia Grant in Grant's Tomb, New York, NY|
June 11, 2012 Grover Cleveland
I hadn't given much thought about the fact that my birthday fell in the same week as our vacation until we booked out rental house. Then I started to think that it would be appropriate if I put the day that I planned to see my final Presidential Gravesite on my birthday. So I did.
We all loaded up and left the rental house around 6:30 am. We arrived at Washington Crossing first. We went to the visitors center and watched a video. Then we drove down to the area in which George Washington's Army crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Day 1776 to defeat the Hessian Mercenaries at The Batte of Trenton. It was a desperate time for the Continential Army, and the victory at Trenton was a much needed victory for us. This was very cool to see!
We then made a quick stop in Trenton to see the gravesite of Civil War Union General George McClellan. Then it was off to the highlight of the day in Princeton. We arrived at Princeton Cemetery and got a map. There were a few points of interest here. But first and foremost was the Gravesite of President Cleveland. We started to drive into the older area of the cemetery and it didn't take long for me to recognize the Cleveland family plot. It was a great feeling knowing that I had finally seen all 38 Presidential Gravesites. However I did feel that my collection wouldn't be 100% complete until I was able to make it back and get a better look at TR. But for know, I was enjoying it. Cleveland definatly has one of the simpler gravesites of all the Presidents. If you didn't know, and weren't looking for it. You would never guess that a President was buried there. After a few pictures we headed to see all of the other points of interest there. We found Vice President Aaron Burr, Signer of the Declaration of Independence John Witherspoon, and Theologian Jonathan Edwards, who also happened to be Burr's Grandfather. After a little while we started to load up. I decided to change my shirt, and pay President Cleveland another visit before we left. In a way paying him 2 non consecutive visits for his 2 non consecutive terms as President.
After we left the cemetery we made some quick stops at 3 private property, Presidential residences. First we stopped at Grover Clevelands "Westland" home. This was the home he was living in when he died in 1908. Then we got some quick pictures of 2 of Woodrow Wilson's houses that he lived in when he served as President of Princeton University. Then we headed to New Brunswich, NJ for lunch. A few weeks before the trip, I discovered Man V. Food on Netflix. This gave me some idea's of places to eat on the trip. Before the end of the trip we would eat at 3 different places that I saw on the show. We grabbed some sandwhiches at R U Hungry on the Rutgers University campus. Every sandwhich gets covered with fries. Very good!
We made one last stop that day at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in Paterson, NJ. McKinley Vice President Garret Hobart has a very large Tomb there. I was also able to meet up with my friend Frank, who I met online after finding his website on Political Gravesites. Here is a link to Franks website: www.mcgady.net/ms/dpotus/main.html . After visiting with Frank for awhile. We were on our way back to the rental house for the night. With it being my birthday, my Mom started making us a considerable amount of homemade Mac n Cheese, one of my favorates. And later that night I was surprised with a DQ Ice Cream Cake. It was a pretty amazing birthday!
|Grover Cleveland Princeton Cemetery Princeton, NJ|
The next day was the Lighthouse and Beach day that I promised my wife. However, no beach happened since it was cold and raining all day. We first stopped in Atlantic City and saw Absecon Lighthouse, which was closed, but seeing Atlantic City was pretty cool. Next we stopped at Barneget Lighthouse, we were able to get in and climb to the top of that one. Then lunch at Chicken or the Egg, another place we saw on Man V. Food. Next stop was in Long Branch, NJ at the Death site of President Garfield, then we stopped at the nearby Church of the Presidents, in which 7 Presidents had attended services at one time or another. Then Sandy Hook Lighthouse, which was downpouring rain, so we didn't get out. Then a quick stop at Twin Lights State Historic site. After this we started the long trip back to the rental house. But first I made a quick stop at The Quick Stop. If you are framiliar with Kevin Smith's movies, Clerks, Mallrats, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, ect.. we stopped the conveinence store in which Clerks was filmed.
The next day was Valley Forge Philadelphia day. Now I had never been there before and this trip gave me a good idea of how long I would want to set aside for the various sites next time. It was a very rushed day, but fun. We got to Valley Forge around 8:30 am. We went and saw the big memorial arch. And then headed for Washington's headquarters. I learned that next time, I could easily spend half a day there, taking it all in. We then headed into the Independence Hall area of Philadelphia. We parked at the Independence Hall Visitors Center parking garage. We started walking around and saw a bunch of sites in that area, Independence Hall, Ben Franklins grave, Congress Hall, ect... After awhile we headed over to the Reading Terminal Market to try out Dinic's Roasted Pork Sandwhich that I saw on Man V. Food. When I eventually ate the sandwhich I can easily say that it was the best sandwhich I ever ate! We took them to go and started to head for Laurel Hill Cemetery, where I met up with another Presidential Gravesite enthusiast that I met online, Rich. Rich gave us a nice tour of the cemetery. Civil War General George Meade of Gettysburg fame is buried there, as is Signer of the Declaration of Independence Thomas McKean. A few movies were filmed there including Transformers 2, Rocky Balboa, and Law Abiding Citizen. We saw the patched pavement that had to be fixed after an explosion ruined it during the filmed of Law Abiding Citizen. And the Adrian Balboa gravestone used in Rocky Balboa. After we left we headed for Germantown to see the Deshler Morris House, the house that George Washington escaped to during a Yellow Fever outbrake during his Presidency. Making it the first Presidential retreat. Then we went back into Philadelphia to try some Cheesesteaks. On the way we parked illegally, Chris and I jumped out as we got some quick pics of Vice President George Millfin Dallas gravesite. When we got to the Cheesesteak places we split up and some of us got some Pat's and some of us got some Geno's. We all agreed that Geno's was better. On the way back to the rental we again parked illegally in front of the Art Museum and ran up the Rocky steps, and got some pictures. It was a nice Philadelphia experience.
June 14, 2012 Franklin D. Roosevelt gravesite revisit
My original plan for this day was to drive along the Hudson River valley, revisit the 3 Presidents along the Valley (FDR, Van Buren, and Arthur), pick up 2 VP's and see the Grant Cottage north of Albany. But after seeing TR's grave earlier in the week didn't go as planned, I changed plans. I decided to see the 2 VP's, then see FDR's Library, then take another run at visiting TR's grave. On this day, my wife decided to stay at the rental house with the kids. So around 6 am, Mom, Dad, Chris and I headed out. First we visited the gravesite of Madison's Vice President George Clinton in Kingston, NY. Then we crossed the Hudson River and saw Ben Harrison's Vice President Levi Morton in Rhinebeck, NY. We then headed south to the FDR Library/ National Historic Site in Hyde Park, NY. When I originally visited FDR in September 2009 we only took time for the house tour. This time I wanted to see the Library/Museum. When we got there we found that most of the Museum was under renovation. Only a temporary exhibit was available for us to see. So we went ahead and saw what we could. But they said that if we make it back after the renovation and show our tickets, that we can get into the newly renovated Museum for free. After we saw the temporary exhibit. Mom and Dad headed back to the car to make sandwhiches while Chris and I went to see the house and gravesite. Before long we were leaving the FDR site and decided to make a quick stop at Eleanor Roosevelts nearby Val Kil home. Then it was off to Long Island again. To make another run at seeing TR's gravesite.
|Franklin D. Roosevelts gravesite Hyde Park, NY|
June 14, 2012 Theodore Roosevelt gravesite revisit
After a couple of hours we were back in Oyster Bay. We got to the cemetery and were releaved to find that the gate was open. We continued onto Sagamore Hill so that Mom and Dad could see the house. Then we went back to the cemetery. We walked into the cemetery, up the hill, and found 26 steps leading up to TR's gravesite. This was a great feeling! No more loose ends in my quest to visit all 38 Presidential Gravesites. I felt a deeper sence of completion then I did when I visited Grover Clevelands grave a few days before. TR has a simpler headstone that reminded me of Calvin Coolidges. It is a nice ane respectable gravesite to one of our nations greatest Presidents.
We started to head back to the rental house. In what should of been a 2 hours drive back took 5 hours. Apparently President Obama was coming to town to tour the World Trade Center site, and the added security caused serious traffic. It was a very exhausting experience that contributed to the choice to not take a train to NYC the next day.
|Theodore Roosevelt Youngs Memorial Cemetery Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY|
June 15, 2012 James Buchanen gravesite revisit
We only had one more day in the area and that day was going to be the day that we hopped a train into NYC to walk around. The night before Mom, Dad and Chris said that they just wanted to take it easy at the rental house that day. So I planned to get up at 4am so that we could be at the Train station by 7. It was just going to be my wife and I. She was very hesitant about going to walk around NYC. So when the alarm rang at 4, I was very exhausted and it didn't take much arm twisting for me to decide to not go. We slept another couple of hours. I got up and started thinking of something else we could do that would be a little more relaxing. After exploring some options I decided that we would head to Lancaster, PA to see some James Buchanen sites. The house was closed when I stopped by 2 years before. So this time around we took the time to tour the house. We then revisited the gravesite.
After that we stopped at a Pizza Hut lunch buffet and headed back to the rental house. We started packing for the early departure time the next morning.
|James Buchanen Woodward Cemetery Lancaster, PA|
June 16, 2012 Millard Fillmore gravesite revisit
Well, we had a very productive week that I was pretty happy with. On the way out there we didn't make any historical stops. Just gas and food. I didn't want the way home to be that boring. So we left the rental around 5 am and started heading north. The highway travel was refreshing. After being in alot of stop and go traffic all week, I really enjoyed cruising around 80 mph in the early morning hours. We hit Millard Fillmores birthplace marker in Summerhill, NY, William Sewards grave in Auburn, and Frederick Douglas's grave in Rochester, NY. We then headed to Buffalo. There was a series of quick historical markers that I wanted to get pictures of in Buffalo that I missed last time. First we hit the historical marker for the McKinley shooting site. Then we revisited President Fillmores grave, where I met up with another Presidential history buff Pat, who I met online. Pat's website is http://www.patspresidentialplaces.com/ .
After visiting with Pat a little bit we started preparing to head out. I took one last picture of Fillmores grave. When I went to view it, the image on the camera was scrambled. I started to freak out a bit at the idea of losing all of the pictures that I took that week. I was going to hit some other sites in the cemetery but my mind was so preoccupied that I forgot. I wanted to get to a Wal Mart picture center to see if the camera chip was ruined. So I had my wife type into the GPS for home, figuring we would pass a Wal Mart somewhere along the way. But as we started following the GPS, it started taking us down the street with a few of the quick historical markers that I wanted to see. So I took a deep breath and made those stops while we were there. First I got out my phone and got pictures of the William McKinley death site. Then we went down to the TR Inaguaral Site. My wife saw a Walgreens across the street from the TR Inagural Site. So she took the camera chip and went to check it out. After browsing the gift shop I ran across the street to Walgreens to see what she had found out. Most of the pictures were fine. But about 20 of them that I took at Laurel Hill Cemtery in Philly were ruined. This was a relief for the most part. We then headed to a small town south of Buffalo to see Millard Fillmores house in East Aurora.
|Millard Fillmores graveste in Forest Lawn Cemtery Buffalo, NY|
Well, that completes the series of Presidential Gravesite trips (until any of the currently living former Presidents pass on). I hope you enjoyed them, and / or found them helpful in your own quest.