Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Land of Lincoln–Exploring Springfield, IL

On Tuesday afternoon we ventured down the road to Springfield to learn all we could about Abraham Lincoln – the man, the lawyer, the husband and father, the 16th President.

Downtown Springfield is home to the Lincoln Presidential Library

Lincoln Presidential Library

the Presidential Museum,

Lincoln Presidential Museum

and the Lincoln Family home.

Lincoln Home

In the Museum, we learned that Lincoln was born in Kentucky, but at a young age he moved with his family to a log cabin in Indiana.

Lincoln's Boyhood Home

Lincoln's Early Years as a LawyerHaving taught himself to read, he worked hard as a young man, eventually moving to Springfield to work as a lawyer.  He became well-known as a lawyer and debater, and attempted several times to enter politics.   







He married Mary Todd, and they bought this home at the corner of 8th and Jackson, in Springfield, for $1500.  They bought the home as a small single-story house, but added on to it as their family grew.

Lincoln Home

1860s Springfield











Both the Museum and the National Historic Site had movies that told of the Lincolns’ life in Springfield.  We weren’t allowed to take many pictures in the Museum, but we were allowed to take as many as we wanted in the Lincoln home.

The Lincolns had 4 sons, although one died of tuberculosis as a toddler, while they still lived in Springfield.  According to the historians, the Lincolns were devastated by the loss of their son, and tended to let the younger boys (who were born after his death) run a little wild. 



Mr. Lincoln was also quite extravagant in the things he bought for the boys.  This stereoscope (worked like a Viewmaster) was equivalent to buying the boys a top-of-the-line 50” plasma TV.







The Lincolns had a formal parlor for entertaining guests,

Formal Parlor

Family Room


and a more casual room for spending time as a family.  Also according to the historian, Mrs. Lincoln said that her happiest times were the days they spent in this house as a family.







It was in this house that members of the Republican Party informed Abraham Lincoln that he had been chosen as their nominee for the 1860 Presidential election, and also in this house that he told Mary that they had won the election.

Mary Lincoln's Bedroom


Lincoln's Bedroom

The historian told us that the wall paper in the master suite was an exact match to the wallpaper that Mrs. Lincoln chose  . . . she also told us that Mrs. Lincoln suffered from migraines.  I think that wallpaper would give me migraines!

Most of the furniture in the house was carefully chosen antiques from the time period, very similar and often by the same manufacturer as the Lincolns’ own furniture.  A few pieces, however, are original, including Mr. Lincoln’s desk.     Lincoln's Desk


It’s hard to imagine such a tall man sitting at such a small desk, but they believe that he likely wrote his inauguration speech at that very desk.








Our tour exited the house in the backyard,


and we were able to walk through the rest of the “neighborhood” that is contained within the 4-block boundary of the National Park.  It was really neat to see this little neighborhood restored to the state it was in in the 1860s – right in the middle of downtown Springfield.

Restored Neighborhood

The other half of the Museum covered the Lincolns’ years in the Whitehouse, and the struggles he faced as President during the Civil War.

The Lincoln's move to the Whitehouse

He’s now considered one of the greatest Presidents of all time, but at the time there were plenty of people who didn’t like him. 

The display ends with his assassination, and the funeral train that carried Mr. Lincoln’s body from Washington DC, through 15 different cities for viewing of his casket, to his final resting place at Oak Creek Cemetery in Springfield.

Lincoln Tomb

Plans for the Monument and Tomb began immediately after his death, and some major reconstruction occurred around 1900.



The bronze sculpture of Lincoln’s face in front of the Monument was sculpted by Gutzon Bolgrum, the same artist who created Mount Rushmore.

Sculpture by Gutzon Borglum

Rubbing Lincoln’s nose is supposed to bring good luck, and it’s apparent that many people have tried it . . . Tom just had to be one of them!

Rubbing his nose for good luck

Tom and the boys at the Memorial


We entered the tomb, where we were immediately greeted by a bronze reproduction of the Lincoln memorial in Washington DC.

Model of Lincoln Memorial in DC

We walked through the circular corridor, passing by multiple sculptures of Lincoln at various stages in his life,




until we reached his tomb.

Abraham Lincoln's Final Resting Place

It was a very somber place, but surprisingly accessible . . . we were just a few feet away from the actual tomb of the 16th President of the United States.  It really is a beautiful resting place!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Exploring Route 66 in Illinois

Main Street USA

We left Nappanee early Sunday morning and made our way across Indiana and into Illinois . . . through farm fields,

Farm Field

and wind farms.

Wind Farm











Our destination, in fact, was in the middle of a corn field!

Camp A While Campground

Camp A While


We found the Camp A While Campground on the Passport America site;  it’s a cute little campground with friendly owners – a nice spot to spend a few days!


It was a tight squeeze to get the RV pulled into site #8, but we made it!




Site 8

Illinois Route 66

Today, after work and school were done, we headed north on historic Route 66 to the little town of Atlanta.

As we drove into town, we were greeted by this smiling face.

Smiley Water Tower

It was quiet in town, with most places closed on Monday, but we managed to see several well-known Route 66 attractions.

Our first stop was the Atlanta Park,


where we learned about the history of this cute little town and spoke to a couple of volunteers who were cleaning up the landscaping in the park.

Just across the street from the park is the historic Atlanta Library,

Atlanta Public Library

and the Palms Grill Café, which used to be the Greyhound Bus Station.

Palms Grill Cafe

Atlanta Mural



The Trading Post and the Route 66 Museum were closed, but we were still able to get a peek in the window . . .

Route 66 Museum

Wilbur the mechanic










Paul Bunyan and the boys


and Big Paul Bunyan was still posing for pictures . . . although he seems to have traded his axe for a hot dog!!

What’s up with that??!!








We did find an Arcade Museum that was open (at least we think it was open . . . they had a sign outside, and the door was open . . . nobody was around, though!)

Vintage Arcade

Vintage Pinball


They had quite a collection of old arcade games . . . and some not-so-old ones that I remember!! LOL




Some were even in working condition, and the boys just had to try them out!  Bryce trying out the old style machine









On the way out of town, we stopped to see the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator.

Historic Grain Elevator


Grain Elevator

It was closed, too – only open in the summer, but we could still walk around and check out the interpretive signs.




Nicolas tried to weigh himself on the scale, but it wasn’t working!

On the scale

Back in Lincoln, the weather had improved enough to justify a visit to Dairy Queen before they close for the season  (yes, we are still up north, and Dairy Queen closes in the winter!)

A good day for Dairy Queen

YUM - Ice cream


It sure did taste good!!






After our treat, we drove through downtown Lincoln, although we weren’t as successful at finding Route 66 sites here!

We did manage to find the County Courthouse, though,

Logan County Couthouse

and City Hall (complete with telephone booth on the roof for storm sighting!),

City Hall - with phonebooth!

Lincoln face


Lincoln’s face on a wall,


and a Quilt Shop!

Found a Quilt Shop in Lincoln!

We finally gave up on looking for historic sites, and just made our way back to the RV for dinner . . . following a hot air balloon part of the way!

Hot Air Balloon

Tomorrow our agenda includes Springfield and Abraham Lincoln!