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This Forest Park burial ground is a hit with children. Just ask them about the elephants in the cemetery. Woodlawn Cemetery's biggest drawing card is Showmen's Rest. It is maintained by the Showmen's League of America for the burial of circus performers.
In June of 1918 the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train had a disastrous wreck resulting in the deaths of fifty performers and crew members. Many of the victims were buried here. Many headstones are marked with only nicknames, like "The Fat Man" or "Baldy," or with "Unknown" designations. Five spectacularly somber stone elephants draw attention to the site. With their trunks lowered as if in mourning. There is an unfounded legend that tells of the animals rescuing victims from the deadly fire that consumed most of the train wreck's victims.
Ervin Dusak (1920-1994), who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1950s, is also buried at Woodlawn.
Sources used in the compilation of this entry include but are not limited to:
Graveyards of Chicago by Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski -- a book which describes many of the Chicago area cemeteries.
Last Modified: 10/17/2005