Travel Treasures: Lincoln’s 200th Birthday

by Tom Reed
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Story filed February 9, 2009

Although the bicentennial celebration began a year ago, February 12 of this year marks the actual 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

A full schedule of events in Washington, D.C. kicks off a year of activities, accompanied by smaller celebrations in many other places, including the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. The February 12 events are only the beginning of the nation’s tribute to our 16th president. In fact, the bicentennial is so big that it got underway a year ago. My story from February 2008 described some of the sites you might want to visit. February is not a good time to travel in our part of the country, but it’s an ideal time to plan some warm weather trips, and to immerse yourself in Lincoln lore on the Internet, or at your local libraries.

Abraham Lincoln

Here are some suggestions:

  • Combine a visit to the Lincoln birthplace in Hodgenville, Kentucky with a trip to the Lincoln boyhood home in Spencer County, Indiana. The two sites are about 130 miles apart, not far from Louisville. Ky. The Kentucky bicentennial website - www.kylincoln.org - has up-to-date information about Lincoln-related attractions and events. The Indiana bicentennial commission does the same for the Hoosier state at www.in.gov/lincoln. An even more useful site might be the National Park Service site for the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, www.nps.gov/libo. Lincoln spent his formative years, from age seven through 21, in this area. Within the memorial grounds are the foundation of the family’s cabin, and the grave marker for Lincoln’s mother. A new attraction opens this summer. A theatrical production called “Lincoln” premieres June 12, 2009 at the Lincoln Amphitheatre in Lincoln State Park, just off Highway 162 in Lincoln City, Indiana. For more information visit www.lincolnamphitheatre.com.
  • If the Kentucky and Indiana locations are the appetizers, Springfield, Illinois is the main course for people interested in the Lincoln story. This is where he served in the legislature, practiced law, and began his national political career. Visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the old State Capitol where he made his “House Divided” speech, his law office, his home, and his gravesite. Two websites are invaluable in planning your trip: The Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.visit-springfieldillinois.com and the library and museum site www.alplm.org. The latter shows what you can expect to see, as well as updated information about temporary exhibits and events.
  • If you’re looking for something a little closer to home, stop by the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. The Lincoln-Vicksburg Monument is being rededicated in a ceremony this February 12. A Lincoln photo exhibit will remain on display until April 30. The monument in the Statehouse Rotunda has a bust of the president and a representation of the surrender of Confederate Officers at Vicksburg, Mississippi. Generals with Ohio connections were involved in the siege at Vicksburg. For more information check out www.ohiochannel.org/your_state/ohio_statehouse
  • For an overview visit the national bicentennial commission’s website www.lincolnbicentennial.gov. It not only provides information about the bicentennial, but also hosts a wealth of other material, including a biography and excerpts from his speeches and letters. Want to read his entire “House Divided” speech? You’ll find it here. Ditto for the text of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, the Second Inaugural Address, and much more.

Of course there are many other sources of information about Lincoln, but these will give you a start, whether you plan to visit any of the locations, or let your fingers do the walking on your computer keyboard.


Previous stories in this series have dealt with Ohio presidential sites. Go to Reed’s Read index to access them.


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