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Tomb of Nina Craigmiles.

Bloodstained Tomb of Nina Craigmiles

Field review by the editors.

Cleveland, Tennessee

Seven-year-old Nina Craigmiles was killed on St. Luke's Day, 1871 (October 18). A buggy in which she was riding -- or possibly driving -- was hit by a locomotive in downtown Cleveland. Her father, John Henderson Craigmiles, was overcome with grief and had the money to share it with everyone else in town. He bought the land where both Nina and her mom had been born -- it was only a few blocks from Nina's death spot -- and commissioned a Gothic Revival style church to be built on the property. Named St. Luke's Memorial Episcopal Church, it opened on the third anniversary of Nina's death.

Tomb of Nina Craigmiles.

The church was merely a pretext for what came next: an elaborate, neighboring tomb for Nina (the church cost $22,000, the tomb $20,000). Built of white Carrera marble from Italy, with walls four feet thick and a spire over 37 feet high, Nina's mausoleum is sizable enough to qualify as a small house. It was completed in 1876-77, and what remained of Nina was then entombed within a marble sarcophagus topped with a carving of her body under a fringed blanket, a crown, and a cross.

Alleged blood stains.

In hindsight, the Craigmiles would have been happier living somewhere other than Cleveland; not only did Nina meet her doom in town, but her father later died after falling on an icy Cleveland street, and then her mother was run over by a car on another Cleveland street. Both were interred next to Nina.

It's unclear when the red blotches began appearing on Nina's white marble tomb, but generations of ghost-believers have viewed them as bloodstains and blamed them on the violent Cleveland deaths of the Craigmiles.

Additional lore claims that Carrera marble is pure white and never has colored impurities that can appear over time (it sometimes does), and that the stained marble was replaced with new marble that stained again (very unlikely), and that a marble statue of Nina later sank on the Titanic (extremely unlikely). These embellishments are unnecessary; the stains and the mausoleum are weird enough, and the presence of a children's playground behind Nina's tomb just makes it all weirder.

Bloodstained Tomb of Nina Craigmiles

4th St. NE, Cleveland, TN
From North: I-75 exit 25. Drive east on Hwy 60/25th St. Turn right onto US Hwy 11/Ocoee St. Drive south into town. Turn left onto 4th St. NE; the Crypt will be on the right. From South: I-75 exit 20. Drive east on US Hwy 74, then exit north onto US Hwy 11. Drive into town, turn left on Ocoee St. (still US Hwy 11), then drive north six blocks. The Crypt will be on the left, between Central Ave. and 4th St. NE. The stains are most visible on the underside of the entry arch on the Ocoee St. side of the crypt.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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