Visitors to the popular Ocean Beach in San Francisco are accustomed to dramatic views of waves crashing onshore, but perhaps nothing quite as dramatic as the sight of tombstones.
"I've seen some really unusual things out here," jogger Susan Palleschi told KTVU. "That gravestone blew me away."
Turns out the tombstones were placed there more than 70 years ago to help stop erosion from rising tides, according to KTVU. After the city shut down several cemeteries in the 1940s, the bodies were moved, but "unclaimed property" remained. Some families simply couldn't afford to have the markers moved. The headstones soon became city property and they were put to good use, according to David Gallagher, director of the Western Neighborhoods Project.
"In 1942 or 1943, there were great storms in the city. The Great Highway was eroding…they had all this construction debris," Gallagher told KTVU. "Among the debris were all these headstones that they dumped to stop the surging tide. "
Pieces of the grave markers have now reappeared over the past several weeks, including one that belonged to Delia Presby, a wife that died in 1890 at the age of 26. And it seems the markers will remain on the beach until the tide once again covers them. A representative from the U.S. Park Service told KTVU there are no plans to recover and relocate the headstones.
Uncovered grave markers seem to be in the news lately: Last month a man in Tennessee was also in for a shock when he discovered old tombstones while he was doing maintenance in his backyard.