If you’ve ever looked up cemeteries or churches on your GPS device, chances are you didn’t find them. That’s because many manufacturers don’t include them in their POI listings. However, you still may be able to download them to your device.
Since most GPS devices offer a finite number of POIs, manufacturers typically leave out cemeteries and churches in favor of more commercial locations, such as stores, movie theaters, gas stations, restaurants and other business locations. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t available — it just means you need to know where to look.
Locate Cemeteries and Churches with These Online Resources
Before you hit the road to find a particular church or cemetery, it’s a good idea to sit in front of your computer and visit one of the many online databases that offer POI files for download. One such database is POI Factory, a discussion forum and user-driven GPS resource, which offers a variety of POI files for download — in most cases, for free. At this site, you can use keywords like “cemetery” or “church,” or more specifically, “Catholic churches” or “California churches.” This data-packed site also has POI files for U.S. presidential gravesites, famous gravesites, American cemeteries in Europe and more.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for in an online POI database, don’t worry because that’s not your only option. There are other online resources available that provide GPS coordinates for cemeteries and churches, which can then be used to create waypoints on your device. A waypoint is simply a self-made POI that you enter and save in your GPS device by recording the longitude and latitude of a location and giving it a name.
One of these online resources is the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) run by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, which offers GPS coordinates for dozens of locations, including cemeteries, hospitals, churches and even lakes, forests and dozens of other categories. Another, TopoZone, is a subscription-based service that offers topographic maps, aerial views and GPS coordinates for many destinations, including cemeteries and churches.
If you check these sites, and the cemetery or church you’re looking for still can’t be found, you may still be able to find its location in several other ways — such as conducting an online search to see if the cemetery or church has a website or contacting the town office in which they reside for an exact address.
Like a lot of things online, many of the websites highlighted in this article are user-driven and become an indispensable resource for people conducting research. To keep these user-created databases going, it’s important to become part of the process. So when you eventually locate your cemetery or church, be sure to list it in one of the online POI databases so that its location will be recorded — and easily available — for other searchers to find in the future.