Chasing Abraham Lincoln
I’ve been working on a series called “Day-Cations” and took it a step further last week, when I drove 10 hours to Springfield, Illinois to visit the Abraham Lincoln sites. We have so many wonderful historic sites across the Midwest and I was excited to finally make my way to the Land of Lincoln to discover all the cool things I’ve been hearing so much about over the years. I wasn’t disappointed and hope this story persuades you to visit the city where our 16th President rose the ranks to become the iconic figure he is today.
My first step in getting started was to reach out to David Blanchette, Communications Coordinator with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. He was a huge help in getting me ready for my visit and set my family and I up with passes to tour all the exhibits inside the museum. He was extremely helpful in making sure I knew exactly where to go and what to see while I was in town for the weekend. The museum was absolutely amazing with so many exhibits to see including the log cabin replica (Journey One) that explores Lincoln’s Pre-Presidential years and the White House replica (Journey Two) which of course expanded on Lincoln’s Presidential years all the way up to his assassination while in office at the hands of John Wilkes-Booth.
My six year old daughter Macy fell in love with Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic, a space where kids can get hands on with a play kitchen, doll house, Lincoln Logs and dress up in period clothing. We watched a movie entitled “Lincoln’s Eyes” inside the Union Theater and even got to ask Abe himself some questions inside the interactive theater called “Ask Mr. Lincoln.” The highlight for me was looking at all the items inside the “Treasures Gallery” that were such a huge part of the Lincoln’s lives including the actual marriage license of their eldest son Robert Todd to Mary Harlan.
We didn’t have to venture far to grab lunch on our first afternoon. The Museum has a Subway available inside the cafe and we concluded our visit with a stop inside the Museum Store. One of my many purchases was a great book on various Lincoln descendants and a pencil sharpener for Macy’s collection. The store has a wonderful collection of books written on Abraham Lincoln, his family and his great accomplishments both in and outside of the White House.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library (across the street from the Museum) is a research library of special interest to those interested in the study of Illinois rich history, the life and impact of our 16th President Abraham Lincoln, and family history. In one place, researchers can find the largest collection of Illinois history materials,archive of Lincoln papers and artifacts, a multi-million-item collection of manuscript materials, audio-visual materials dating from the founders of photography to the present day, and a holding of Illinois newspapers on microfilm. They have special rotating exhibits on display throughout the year and the second floor has a beautiful view of downtown Springfield.
Some of the other places we visited on our Lincoln tour included the Old State Capital which served as the seat of government from 1839-1876 where people like Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas and General Ulysses S. Grant (18th President) worked and served. The Lincoln Herndon Law Offices, which is the only remaining building where Abraham Lincoln maintained a law office and planned to return to once he completed his term in office. The Lincoln Home which is maintained by the National Park Service, is the only home the Lincoln’s ever owned and lived for seventeen years until he left for Washington DC to become our 16th President. The home features many of the Lincoln’s original furnishings and you can tour many of the homes in the neighborhood , to get an idea of what it was like to live by the Lincoln’s in the mid 1800’s.
Our final stop in Springfiled included a visit to Lincoln’s Tomb just five miles from the Library and Museum. Dedicated back in 1874, the Lincoln Tomb is the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln, his wife Mary, and three of their four sons, Edward, William, and Thomas. Their eldest son, Robert Todd. Lincoln, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery at the wishes of his wife. Also on the site is the public receiving vault, constructed back in 1860, the scene of funeral services for Abraham Lincoln on May 4, 1865. In 1960 the Tomb was designated a National Historic Landmark and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.
Don’t forget to rub Lincoln’s nose before you head into the tomb and all the signs on the grounds ask that you maintain silence while visiting Lincoln’s final resting place. Overall, this was one of the best overnight trips I’ve ever done with my family and can’t wait to come back for another visit in the very near future. Feel free to email me with any questions you have before heading out at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office at 320.257.7221.
Recommended Lodging: President Abraham Lincoln Hotel & Conference Center (close to all the sites) with very comfortable rooms and a beautiful lobby area.
Recommended Dining: Saputo’s (Authentic Italian) at its very finest! Try the homemade meat sauce its a two block walk from the hotel and close to all the sites.
Recommended Shopping: Tinsley Dry Goods on 209 Sixth Street (next to the Lincoln Law Office). Dana and Ron Homann were extremely welcoming and have some unique gift items like my “Abraham Lincoln Bobble Head.”
FYI we didn’t see any Vampires lol