Six cemeteries preserving San Diego history

These burial sites hold stories of the people who founded, developed, and protected the city.

El Campo Santos crosses and burial sites

Here lies some of the oldest history in the formation of Old Town.

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Beneath the grounds of San Diego lie stories of the past. The county’s graveyards play important roles in preserving history, and many have become landmarks.

These six historic cemeteries are open to the public. If you visit, remember to respect the people and stories of these grounds.

Presidio Hill

The Presidio of San Diego is recognized as the city’s first burial site, dating back to SD’s origins in 1769. You can also find a tribute to Sylvester Pattie at “The Witches Tower” that credits him as the “first American buried in California soil.”

El Campo Santo

Located in Old Town, this cemetery was used for 477 burials, 1849-1897, including early Californians like José Antonio Aguirre and the notorious Yankee Jim. Sections of this graveyard have been paved over, so if you see a round, metal marker on the ground, you’re standing on a burial site.

Kate Sessions grave SDtoday

This botanist’s contributions to San Diego are still flourishing.

Mt. Hope Cemetery

Located in the Mt. Hope and Mountain View communities, this area became the final resting place for locals starting in 1871, including city developer Alonzo Horton — aka the “Father of San Diego” — and famed horticulturalist Kate Sessions.

Julian Pioneer Cemetery

Drue Bailey (often credited as the founder of Julian) was buried here with early pioneers who came to this San Diego County mountain community during the Gold Rush.

Rows of gravestones at Fort Rosecrans

This cemetery commemorates US military veterans.

Photo via @codykeys

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

This historical landmark is managed by the Veterans Administration and honors 120,000 Americans who have died. It commemorates US military service members with memorials and monuments, and hosts tributes throughout the year.

Mission Hills Park

Some locals call this space Pioneer Park, and for good reason. It was one of the city’s first cemeteries, but many of the headstones were removed in the 1970s to make a public park. Only a handful remain, paying tribute to early pioneers who came to San Diego.

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