Shark Tombstone – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Atlas Obscura

Shark Tombstone

Allegheny Cemetery

Within this beautiful Pittsburgh cemetery, a unique headstone bears witness to one man's eternal love for Jaws. 


Nestled near the back of Allegheny Cemetery’s sprawling 300 acres sits a headstone quite unlike any other. 

Of the thousands of people buried in Allegheny, ranging from film stars like Lillian Russell to titans of industry like Alfred E. Hunt (the founder of what would become ALCOA), there is only one man with a shark headstone. 

A Korean War Veteran, Lester C. Madden loved the movie Jaws so much that when he died in 1983, he wanted to spend the rest of time buried under its iconic great white shark.

Though Madden’s headstone is one of the more unconventional headstones in Allegheny, there are thousands of others to peruse while walking the 15 miles of roadway within the gates. The cemetery offers guided historical tours as well as self-guided walking tours year round. 

You may not know all the people buried in Allegheny Cemetery, (in fact since there are over 124,000 people interred here, it’s very unlikely you will) but a walk through the cemetery will offer a glimpse into the history of Pittsburgh and the people that decided to remain here.

However, if your primary interest is seeing this remarkable headstone in person, a quick call to the cemetery office will assure you that, in all those 300 acres, you “can’t miss” the shark tombstone—and even if you do, don’t worry, because “everybody knows where it is.” 

Know Before You Go

It's in section 26, lot 65. If you want to search on your own, this map of the cemetery and this map of Section 26 will help in the finding.

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