The Town of the Dead

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The town with millions of graves

Autumn Harnois, Staff Writer

When you think of California, what comes to mind? Hollywood? Los Angeles? Maybe even San Francisco? California is a large state and it has many weird places. One of these places is Colma. Palmer has a population of 12,140, while Colma only has 1,514 people and it is not hard to see why: Colma is known as the town of the dead.

There are more dead people in this town than living people, with the ratio being 1000 to 1. This town is also known as the silent city because it has 17 different cemeteries. It’s hard to imagine a town filled with dead bodies, almost 2 million to be exact. What does it look like? What kind of people live there? How can they live there knowing that there are so many dead bodies? How are there so many dead bodies?

Colma is very close to San Francisco and holds many of their dead. In the early 1900’s San Francisco suffered from four disasters causing many more people to pass. This set the stage for Colma to become one of America’s cities with the most bodies.

The first disaster was the bubonic plague in 1900, which wiped out about 200 people. For religious reasons, cremation was uncommon at the time and fewer people left their bodies to medical science than they do today, so the bodies kept piling up; therefore all of the bodies were buried in Colma.

The next disaster was an earthquake in 1906. The buildings weren’t built to withstand an earthquake, so many collapsed. Immediately after the quakes, the entire town suffered from a terrible fire. This disaster killed about 3,000 people and left more than 400,000 people homeless.

The last disaster, happening 12 years later, was the Spanish Flu pandemic. More than 45,000 fell ill and more than 3,000 people died. All of these disasters killed many people and there was nowhere in big cities to bury them, so Colma became the place where the bodies were buried. The town was purchased for the sole purpose of it being a burial site.

This town has taken in so many dead bodies and pain that many consider it a gloomy and sad town. The streets are lined with cemeteries, mausoleums, crypts, and an abundance of history.