Tombstone Uncovered By Erosion On San Francisco Beach

Teresa Trego had a very unusual find recently when she was walking along Ocean Beach in San Francisco: the 122-year-old granite tombstone of Delia Bresby, 26, who died in 1890, partially buried in sand.

Susan Palleschi, another resident, saw the gravestone on her morning jog, according to The Huffington Post. She stated:

“I’ve seen some really unusual things out here. But that gravestone blew me away.”

The incident could have been a random occurrence, if it weren’t for the back that two beachgoers spotted a different tombstone on the same beach in May. According to The Daily Mail, Trego stated of the find:

“It’s kind of poignant but it’s also kind of what San Francisco’s all about: we’re a small town, we reuse everything.”

While the find brought questions from many people, who wondered how a tombstone from 1890 could be on Ocean Beach, there is actually a plausible explanation. The Huffington Post reports that the tombstones are actually part of an early 1900s bid to stop erosion at the beach. Bill McLaughlin of the Surfrider Foundation writes:

“Instead of constructing another seawall, a makeshift revetment made of tombstones was dumped on the beach. The gravestones came from the Laurel Hill cemetery after if had recently closed due to pressure from developers.”

Laurel Hill, along with other cemeteries within the city limits, were closed down in the early 1900s to make way for real estate. All of the remains were moved to Colma, but their tombstones remained. When the city needed stone for things like a makeshift, emergency seawall, they turned to the leftover stones. Western Neighborhoods Project Director David Gallagher stated:

“They also used them all over the city. They used them in the seawall in the Marina, they used them in Buena Vista Park, Noe Valley. They’re all over the city. But it’s kind of neat to have one just pop up.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the tombstones have been revealed before, the result of fierce winds and ocean currents. the last time they were revealed in 1977, it also caused a stir, but the grave markers were covered up again, and soon forgotten. Alexandra Picavet, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which manages Ocean Beach, stated:

“This happens every once in awhile. It’s been a crazy year for sand.”