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McKinley tomb.
McKinley tomb.

Tomb of President McKinley

Field review by the editors.

Canton, Ohio

It resembles a giant beehive on top of a hill, and from its size -- nearly ten stories to the top of its red, white, and blue skylight -- you'd think that McKinley was one of the greatest Presidents ever. That's doubtful, but he had the serendipitous timing to die at the height of his popularity, and to be murdered by Leon Czolgosz, a thoroughly unlikable anarchist.

President William McKinley's tomb took six years to build. By the time it was dedicated on September 30, 1907, not only William, but also his wife, Ida, and both of their daughters, were dead. William and Ida are lain in the center of the beehive, in identical side-by-side sarcophagi, raised on a marble pedestal so that you have to look heavenward to see them. The two kids are buried in the back wall.

Sarcophagi of Mr. and Mrs. McKinley.
Sarcophagi of Mr. and Mrs. McKinley.

At the time of its dedication, the tomb's bronze entry doors were the largest ever made, and the heroic-size McKinley statue out front was sculpted from a photo of him delivering a speech the day before he was shot at the Pan-American Expo in Buffalo.

Surrounding the tomb are 26 acres designed to resemble a giant sword from the air, with the beehive in the center of its pommel -- like a saintly medieval relic -- and the blade as a 575-foot-long reflecting pool. It probably did look shiny and metallic from a Zeppelin on sunny days, but in 1951 the pool was filled in, which suggests that, after nearly 50 years, William McKinley was slipping from the perpetual upkeep A-List.

According to the McKinley Museum next door, the tomb still receives nearly 200,000 visitors a year. We thought that sounded high for the third-best-known martyred President, but after we stopped by we realized that a lot of those visitors may be local cardio buffs, getting in a workout by running up and down the 108 steps of William McKinley's grave.

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Tomb of President McKinley

McKinley National Memorial

800 McKinley Monument Drive NW, Canton, OH
McKinley National Memorial. I-77 exit 106. Drive east on 12th St. NW for a half-mile, cross the little bridge, then turn right onto Monument Rd NW. Drive a quarter-mile, then turn right onto 7th St. NW. Cross the little bridge, then immediately turn right. You'll see the tomb straight ahead.
Open daily April-Oct. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Robot Mr. and Mrs. McKinleyRobot Mr. and Mrs. McKinley, Canton, OH - < 1 mi.
Willie The WhaleWillie The Whale, Canton, OH - < 1 mi.
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In the region:
Murder Spot Plaque, Sewellsville, OH - 50 mi.

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