Quirky Attraction: James Polk’s Tomb

president polk grave

The Tomb of President James K. Polk
Location: Nashville, Tennessee (State Capitol, 6th Ave. N & Charlotte Ave.)
When to visit: Anytime during daylight hours
Cost: Free
Time needed to enjoy: 5-10 minutes
Website: www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=823 (unofficial)

Nashville is a paradise for dead president seekers. In addition to President Andrew Jackson’s grave at the Hermitage, the tomb of one James K. Polk lies next to the Tennessee Capitol building downtown. His wife Sarah is in the grave with him.

Our 11th president died in 1849 and was moved to this location in 1893. The tomb is very modest, with the grave under a small roof surrounded by a short fence.

There’s not even a statue of Polk here. That’s especially odd when you consider that literally steps away are statues of both Andrew Jackson (left) and Andrew Johnson (right), two other presidents from Tennessee. That’s right – President Polk’s grave has statues of two other men but not himself.

Andrew Jackson Johnson statues Nashville

I leave you with a few quirky facts about Mr. James K. Polk:

-He was the only president who had been Speaker of the House. (Sorry, Newt Gingrich. It was never going to happen for you.)

james polk tomb

-He became president at age 49, making him the youngest commander in chief to that point.

-He was the first president to voluntarily step down after one term, fulfilling a campaign promise he had made.

james k polk grave nashville

-He passed away just three months after leaving office.

-He died of cholera. (Cholera is such a pain. I used to hate when I got it while playing Oregon Trail.)

-Historians consider him one of the most underappreciated presidents, since he accomplished most everything on his agenda.


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About the Author

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based journalist and blogger who seeks out offbeat attractions and awesome destinations around the world. He has been featured in Travel + Leisure, Connect Magazine, Matador Travel, and the Washington Post.

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  1. — He was the first president
    to voluntarily step down
    after one term, fulfilling a
    campaign promise he had
    Must have been a great man. The last point in fact proves it!!
    Have a nice day Scott 🙂

  2. I’ve been to Nashville several times but didn’t realize that it was a “paradise for dead president seeker.” 🙂 Loved that phrase. Interesting facts about Polk. I’m sure Newt is so jealous he won’t be visiting his grave anytime soon.

  3. I love this kind of off beat non mainstream attraction and I would have not known it was there if it wasnt for you sharing this with me so thanks for that!

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