Riverside Cemetery

Posted By on January 15, 2021

Riverside Cemetery

6.35 miles; 454 ft. total ascent; Asheville, NC

[Note: the stats above include my walk to and from. The website claims to have 3 1/2 miles of paved paths, but color me skeptical. I covered about a mile and a half inside the gates, and I would guess I saw at least half of it… okay, maybe.]

The Riverside Cemetery is a famous old graveyard in the Montford district of Asheville, and is the final resting place of, among many others, Thomas Wolfe and O. Henry, whose real name was William Sydney Porter.

cemetery gates

Cemetery Gates on Birch St.

The Montford neighborhood in Asheville is one of the nicer, and more historic, sections of the city. It’s full of elegant old homes, many of which were designed by the architect who also designed the Biltmore House, “America’s Largest Home,” built by George Vanderbilt at the end of the 1800s. So if you don’t get 3 1/2 miles inside the cemetery, you can easily make that up with a tour of the surrounding community.

overview of cemetery

Nice, but Probably Much Prettier in Summer

The paved paths are winding and loopy, and go up and down the many hills here. There was one funeral going on while I was here, so I tried to avoid that area as much as was practical, but it was tricky with all the loops.

O. Henry grave

O. Henry’s Grave

Again, O. Henry was just the most famous of his many pen names; other names included S.H. Peters, James L. Bliss, T.B. Dowd, and Howard Clark. He was quite a character. You should check out his Wikipedia page, for starters. People leave pennies on his tombstone in honor of the opening line of one of his most famous short stories, “The Gift of the Magi.” The pens are kind of self-explanatory.

grave of Thomas Wolfe

“The Last Voyage. The Longest. The Best.”

And here is the grave of Thomas Wolfe. I really loved that line on his tombstone, above. Although “best?” I would venture to guess that everyone’s mileage would vary, so to speak…

angel on cemetery gate

Angel on the Cemetery Gate

Because of his 1929 novel, Look Homeward Angel, angels are kind of a recurring theme here.

Because my route through here was meandering and also because I was trying to avoid intruding on an actual funeral, I’m not posting a track. But if you click on the map or link above it will download as a pdf file. And if you go to the Riverside Cemetery page on the Romantic Asheville website, you can also download a walking tour, and of course, find out more about it. And finally, the address (to get you to the gate) is 53 Birch St., Asheville.


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