We Visit Abe Lincoln in Springfield and New Salem, IL

September 27, 2009

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Springfield, IL

We’ve been to a couple of other Presidential libraries (Kennedy, Truman). Although there’s a “Lincoln Presidential Library” associated with the Lincoln Presidential Museum, we spent our time visiting the museum; we understand that the Lincoln Library plays more of a research role. We found the exhibits and presentations in the Museum to be very entertaining, well done, and also very touching. Very little photography is allowed inside the Museum, but here we are with the Lincoln family! Please view many other relevant photos in our gallery, an easy click away!

P1180245We found the museum volunteers to be very friendly and helpful, in fact one of them shot this photo for us. The place is very well organized, with all visitors flowing into and out of the central rotunda area through the various exhibits. Included in the mix are two multi-media sit-down shows to give visitors a chance to sit; both shows are very impressive and moving. The first one we saw, “Ghosts of the Library,” addresses the perennial question “Why save all this stuff?” It gives true meaning to the tireless toilings of countless museum presenters and collectors. The second one, “Lincoln’s Eyes,” showed the Civil War through the president’s perspective, also very moving.

It takes 3 to 3 1/2 hours to give this museum a good viewing. Don’t sell it short if you get a chance to visit this fine collection and presentation. Never one to back down from an argument, I joined General Grant in a faceoff with General McLellan:

Tough to get a word in edgewise with Generals McLellan and Grant!Coming down to Springfield the previous day to our Museum visit, we stopped at “Lincoln’s New Salem” village, a totally reconstructed replica of the village of New Salem, as it must have actually existed in the era of the 1830s. The actual village (including Lincoln’s shop) only stayed together for about 12 years; when the railroad came to Petersburg, business moved there, and New Salem died off, as owners moved their cabins to be closer to the newer center of commerce at the time. There were no actual plan drawings of the original layout of New Salem, but after Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, a great effort was made to interview past residents of New Salem, so as to document the place for posterity. The actual reconstruction of New Salem happened only a few years ago.

We arrived late that day, and weather was overcast and rainy, so we hoped for better weather the next day, and we got it! Here’s a photo of the replica of Lincoln’s first shop:

Replica of the 1st shop owned by Wm. Berry and A. Lincoln in New Salem

Replica of the 1st shop owned by Wm. Berry and A. Lincoln in New Salem

The whole “Lincoln’s New Salem” village is remeniscent of Sturbridge Village in Massachussetts or Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. It was interesting and a lot of fun to chat with the costumed folks who were emulating the past era.

Finally, we happened to be in Springfield at the same time as their annual “Route 66 Auto Rally,” so going to dinner in the evening we watched the autos parading by on a blocked-off street:

A 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Coupe

A 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Coupe

This particular model year is dear to my heart, as it was new the year I graduated from High School; I remember guys dropping out of school to work so they could make payments on cars like these. You can also see a ’32 Ford Roadster there in the gallery, if you just click on the link. Well, stay tuned. I’m writing this post from the Amish Country of Ohio, more will come…


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