Since we were sort of stuck in Terre Haute because of the holiday weekend, we went to see “Great Gatsby” and ate at Cheeseburger in Paradise (even though Terre Haute is nowhere near my opinion of paradise). The only other activity we found to be worthwhile there was swatting bugs and trying to avoid mosquito bites. So we drove on Memorial Day to Springfield, Illinois. We’ve stayed here two more days than we planned because of the storm front that has been hanging around bringing winds and rain. But staying longer here has been nice because the area’s attractions have exceeded our expectations.
This is the land of Lincoln; Springfield is where he practiced law and bought the only house he ever owned. We toured that house and the neighborhood. There are several blocks that are now owned by the National Park Service who has restored the homes to their original appearance. Then we went to the Lincoln Museum and Library. The exhibits there were excellent, but photography was not allowed in most of them. They depict his early life through his presidency with many interactive displays. There are also items like his stovepipe hat, where you can see the marks left by his fingers as he wore it thin by tipping his hat to greet people.
The next day we drove 20 miles north of Springfield to New Salem. This is where Lincoln lived when he first went to Illinois in his 20’s. The town has been reconstructed because it did not survive after the railroad was built through the neighboring town. But it is where Lincoln worked as a shopkeeper, surveyor, postmaster and rail splitter. He was not successful in all these trades he tried, but he was also constantly studying law.
Also in Springfield we visited Lincoln’s Tomb. You actually go inside it to see where he is buried, as are his wife and three of his four sons. Three of them died as youth (ages 3, 11 & 17); only his oldest lived to adulthood and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. That same day we went to the Old State Capitol, an impressive building where Lincoln argued many cases before the state supreme court. The whole visit here has increased our respect for Lincoln even more as we learned more about his life and the challenges he faced. I’ll close with a great Lincoln quote that is inscribed on the front of Wal-Mart here (its all about Lincoln in Springfield): “
|at the Lincoln Museum|
|New Salem Museum|
|in Lincoln's store|
|front of his first store|
|a New Salem home|
|inside Lincoln's tomb|
|old Illinois state assembly|
|old State Capitol|