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Chilili, New Mexico: Tin Sheet Tombstones

Sometimes you make do with what's available. The eclectic headstones are all in one cemetery, and were all the work of one man.

St. John Nepomucene Cemetery

Hwy 337, Chilili, NM
St. John Nepomucene Cemetery. I-40 exit 175, then south 20 miles on Hwy 337. On the east side, about a mile south of the hamlet of Chilili, and just south of Pohl Rd. The cemetery has an unlocked gate next to the pull-off.
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Tin sheet tombstones.

Tin Sheet Tombstones

Besides the tin tombstones, of which there are many, there are also burial mounds -- some adorned simply with a wooden cross, others covered in plastic flowers and solar lighting. Some graves even have aluminum framing, presumably also built by Mr. McAfee. Totally different than any other cemetery you've probably been to, and a noteworthy stop.

[Luv2RV, 10/05/2022]

Tin tombstone.

Tin Sheet Tombstones

The cemetery is a poignant place to visit: viewing markers made of wood and concrete, reflecting on the poor community whose residents lie buried here. H. McAfee was prolific in his support of this place. His signs urge visitors to remove their trash and "Please Respect."

The site is accessed via an unlocked west gate next to a pull-off.

[Wm Breiland, 01/11/2013]

Tin sheet tombstone.

Tin Sheet Tombstones

In the tiny town of Chilili, New Mexico, about an hour southwest of Albuquerque (west on I-40 to Tijeras, and then south on Highway 14), there is a cemetery in which the dozens of tombstones and memorial plaques have been created entirely of large sheets of tin, mounted on marble. This work was all accomplished by one man, Horace McAfee, who has since passed on but is still venerated by the locals as a great artist. What makes this cemetery so remarkable is that all the wording on the tin was punched out laboriously with a nail, so that the holes form the letters. Some of the memorials are quite extensive, and there are one or two huge sheets that contain McAfee's poetic musings on the nature of the afterlife -- twenty or thirty lines in length. McAfee also erected some large tin cutouts of angels watching over the cemetery.

[William Kowalski, 01/08/2000]

2013: Photo added.

Nearby Offbeat Places

Memorial of Perpetual TearsMemorial of Perpetual Tears, Moriarty, NM - 13 mi.
Lewis Antique Auto and Toy MuseumLewis Antique Auto and Toy Museum, Moriarty, NM - 14 mi.
Soaring Museum - GlidersSoaring Museum - Gliders, Moriarty, NM - 14 mi.
In the region:
Bottle House, Golden, NM - 26 mi.

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