Paste Eater's Grave – Goldfield, Nevada - Atlas Obscura

Paste Eater's Grave

Goldfield Pioneer Cemetery

Eulogizing an unknown man's unusual demise. 


As the story goes, a vagrant wandering the streets of Goldfield in 1908 was rummaging through the trash outside the local library, looking for something to eat. The best sustenance he came across was a jar of book paste.

He would have found the paste surprisingly sweet, because in addition to flour and water, it was 60% alum. Unfortunately, the concentration was deadly. 

The legend continues to say that when the townspeople found the deceased drifter, he was buried in Pioneer Cemetery, which was little more than a dirt patch. The grave was topped with a headstone that stated what little they knew about him. It reads, “UNKNOWN MAN DIED EATING LIBRARY PASTE JULY 14 1908.”

Skeptics point to the fact that the grave’s red paint is very bright for being more than a century old. That being said, some ascribe the fresh paint to sympathetic cemetery-goers who regularly paint over the epitaph so that the unknown man can be remembered for years to come. Others say the whole thing is just a local prank. Whatever the case, the grave serves as a cautionary tale: don’t eat glue.

Know Before You Go

The gravestone is located in the far southwestern portion of the graveyard, behind the Elk's Rest section. It is not easily visible from inside the graveyard itself; follow the dirt vehicle path leading away from the graveyard near the Elk's Rest sign.

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