Elgin History Museum





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What to expect at the Bluff City Cemetery Walk?

Visitors will be welcomed to the historic Bluff City Cemetery that has provided the final resting place for area residents since 1889. Once you arrive, you will be assigned a group number and a guide that will lead your group on a 70 minute tour that showcases gravesites of seven former residents. At the gravesite, an actor in period costume will bring the person to life! Hear their story and the impact they had on the history of Elgin. The group will rotate to the next site on the walk to meet another past Elgin resident until all sites have been visited. The entire walk is about 3/4 mile and there are chairs available at each performance site. 

This year, Knapheide Truck Equipment Center in McHenry, IL has graciously donated use of a tram for each performance! The tram holds about 15 people. Please call the Museum if you are interested in this option at 847-742-4248.

Four Performances–Including a Virtual Option

Because of the incredible positive feedback received about the evening time slot, Saturday’s performances will be starting at 3pm and 5:30pm. Sunday performances will start at 11am and 1:30pm. Tickets are timed entry tickets rather than open all-day tickets, so choose the best show time for you. There will be NO TICKETS AVAILABLE  at the door. Ticket price is $20.00.

The virtual version will be available on October 1st.

Buy tickets here!


The numbers below include tickets for this event already in your cart. Clicking “Get Tickets” will allow you to edit any existing attendee information as well as change ticket quantities.
9/23, Saturday 3pm, General Admission
Please arrive around 2:45pm to allow time for check in
$ 20.00
50 available
9/23, Saturday 5:30pm, General Admission
Please arrive around 5:15pm to allow time for check in
$ 20.00
65 available
9/24, Sunday 11am, General Admission
Please arrive around 10:45am to allow time for check in
$ 20.00
69 available
9/24, Sunday 1:30pm, General Admission
Please arrive around 1:15pm to allow time for check in
$ 20.00
77 available

Bluff City Cemetery Walk - By the numbers




Characters & Vignettes


Attendees each year


The annual Bluff City Cemetery Walk in Elgin has been a tradition since 1987. It is organized by volunteers and staff of the Elgin History Museum. The event attracts hundreds of people to enjoy an outdoor theatrical performance and the beauty of the Bluff City Cemetery grounds. The event also seeks to educate people about Elgin’s unique history and the importance of preserving cemeteries.

How do I buy Tickets?

Choose the date and time you would like to attend. Once you purchase a ticket, you will receive an email confirmation that includes the sale information and your tickets. Your name will be added to the will call list at the gate, but please bring along a copy of the confirmation email (digital or printed) just in case question arise. The Bluff City Cemetery Walk is a rain or shine event. No refunds will be given unless the entire event is canceled.

Virtual Cemetery Walk

The virtual version of the Bluff City Cemetery Walk will debut on October 1, 2023. The link to the video will be sent out October 1, and the recording will be available for a month. You will be able to access the video on our YouTube channel, and watch it on your device of choice.

Can I volunteer for the event?

YES! The Cemetery Walk is run solely by volunteers! There are many opportunities such as

  • Guides that lead groups around the cemetery
  • Set up and take down crews
  • Greeters and ticket takers
  • Hospitality

Please contact Rudy Galfi for more information.

Last year over 600 people attended the Cemetery Walk. Your sponsorship of the event will show your commitment to the preservation and sharing of Elgin’s heritage.  The event is heavily promoted locally and in the surrounding suburbs. Sponsors will be featured the day of the event, on the Museum’s website and social channels leading up to the event, and receive free tickets! View the full benefits and sponsor levels. Confirm your sponsorship by September 1, 2023.

Cemetery Walk Characters 2023

William D. Ackemann

An astute businessman, one of the five brothers that owned Ackemann Bros. Department Store.

Joseph Hecker

Musician that organized the Elgin National Watch Factory Band and established the Elgin College of Music.

Ruth Andersen

Lifelong teacher who taught at Wing School for 20 years.

Geister Family-told by Mary Geister

Superintendent of a windmill manufacturing firm, then owned a lumber company.

Gould Family-told by Dorothy “Dot” Gould

Parents were tragically killed in the Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago. Dorothy became a community leader.

Chisholm Family-told by Emma Chisholm

One of Elgin’s wealthiest families in the late 1800s - derived their wealth from mining interests in the West.

Abraham Leatherman

Established Leatherman's Tavern along Route 20. The tavern served as a way station for travelers and a social center.

Parking Details

Parking is available on Bluff City Boulevard on both sides of the street as marked in the image below. There are 4 accessible parking spots on either side of the Gate near the administration building. There will be Police Explorers at the gate to help with parking and direct traffic. 

If you have any further questions about the walk, please call the Elgin History Museum at (847) 742-4248 or email cemeterywalk@elginhistory.org.

Thank you to our generous sponsors!