We have been looking forward to visiting Springfield for quite awhile because of the opportunity to see all the exhibits they have on Abraham Lincoln. It has been obvious since we entered Illinois that they are proud of their association with our 16th President.
On the way to Springfield, as we traveled down historic Route 66, we continued to see farmers busy in the miles and miles of cornfields, preparing the fields for winter. It is amazing to see all the cornfields in Illinois! It certainly reinforces our knowledge that a farmer’s work is not easy, and is never done! We love seeing all the windmills.
On our first night in Springfield we met an old friend of Bill’s for dinner. Bill had not seen this friend in 32 years since the days when Bill lived in Los Angeles. He gave Bill a CD of pictures taken from the early 80’s when a group went on backpacking adventures to several mountain peaks. It certainly was fun seeing pictures of Bill from the early 1980’s!
The next day was mail day…..we picked up our mail at the Springfield post office. It is always fun to get mail, now that we only get it about every 2 weeks! Then we took a nice bike ride along the Interurban Bike Trail in Springfield, a great paved bike trail that wound through cornfields and pastures.
Wednesday was our day to visit all the Lincoln sites in Springfield. Our first stop was the Lincoln Presidential Museum, which was open this day of federal government closures because it is owned by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. This well done museum took us on a journey through Lincoln’s life beginning with a replica of the rustic log cabin in Indiana where he spent his boyhood years, (he was born in Kentucky), to his early adult years working as a storekeeper and his beginnings as a lawyer and young politician. The journey continued through the 1860 election and his years in the White House, the horror of the Civil War and ending with his assassination at Ford Theater. We saw two films in the museum theaters that told us some well known, and lesser known facts about Lincoln and his family. There was also an exhibit on the Civil War. The only thing we didn’t like about the museum is they restricted the use of photography except for the main exhibit hall where these pictures came from. We saw many many things we wished we could have taken pictures of to share on the blog!
We briefly stopped by the Lincoln Presidential Library which is a “working” research library. Historical documents there are kept under lock and key except when they are taken out and displayed at the museum.
Next we proceeded to the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, which since it is maintained by the federal government, was closed today. The area is a 4 block historic area that has been returned to its mid 19th century appearance. In this area is the only house Lincoln owned, built in 1839 and bought by Lincoln in 1844. It has been restored to look the way it did in the 1860’s. The Lincoln family lived here for 17 years, and it was in the parlor of this house that representatives of the Republican National Convention in May, 1860, asked Lincoln to be the party’s presidential nominee. Under normal circumstances there is a ranger available to give tours of the house, but not this day! There is a self guided walking tour of the area, so we were still able to get into the area and take pictures. The visitor’s center was closed and no ranger tour.
In another area of the city was Lincoln’s Tomb which was also open because it is a state historic site. It is the location where Lincoln, his wife Mary, and three of their four children are buried. The granite tomb was dedicated in1874 and is 117 feet tall. Around the top of the tomb are statues portraying the infantry, cavalry, artillery, and navy. The names of the 37 states were inscribed on shields with other state’s names added as they were created. Metal from civil war cannons were used for the statues on the tomb.
On the grounds of the historic site are memorials also to Illinois veterans of the World War II, Korean and Vietnam wars.
Finally we also drove by the Illinois state capitol, built from 1868-1888 and at 405 feet at the top of the flagpole is one of the tallest building in central Illinois, and is taller than the U.S. Capitol in D.C.
Our next stop was supposed to be a campground owned by the Army Corps of Engineers at Carlyle Lake, Illinois. Due to the government shutdown the campground has been closed. We are now re-planning our next stop.