Monday, September 22, 2008

Abe's Home Town

We finally left Michigan after the storms from Ike passed through, about ten miles into Indiana we found out that all the freeways around the bottom of Lake Michigan were closed due to flooding, sixty miles and three hours later we were through all the detours and back on our path.

We set up camp near Ottawa so we could try and locate two more of
the Whispering Giants, the first one we found was out at the Starving Rock Lodge, we had to do some more detours to get to it but we made it.

The next one was a little harder since it was located at Riverside Park, the flood stage for the Illinois River is 22 feet and two days before it peaked at 32 feet 8 inches, a new record. We did managed to get close enough to get a few pictures of the top half of it that was sticking above the water.

In town we found Washington Square which was the site of the first Lincoln - Douglas debate, out here in the mid 1850 over 14,000 people made their way to this site to listen to the debate.

Day One in Springfield
Time to move south to Springfield, home town of Lincoln, to start out with, this is one of the cleanest and tourist friendly city's we have ever been to.

Our first day in Springfield, it's bright and sunny and it going to 80 degrees so we decided to tour the town of Salem, about 12 miles NW of Springfield. This is the town that Lincoln settled in when he was 21 and lived here until he was 26 and elected as a State Representative. This is the town were he self-educated himself and became a lawyer, while doing this he kept busy by trying his hand at owning a small store, unsuccessfully, and teaching himself the trade of being a surveyor which he was very successful at.

They have recreated the entire village and there are about 15 buildings with interpreters

On the way home we made a few stops the first was at Oakwood Cemetery to Visit Lincoln's Tomb, of course the front part was under construction so it was hard to get any really good pictures of the outside and we were not allowed on the second level, but the inside was open and we were able to view the tomb. Also all the War Memorials are located here in the cemetery.

And finally we ended the day by stopping at the Illinois Military Museum, this is a small museum on the National Guard Base. It has an excellent exhibits that do a great job of explaining the history of the guard and it's assignments during the various wars, right now they are loading up and 25% of them are being shipped to Afghanistan starting next week.

There are two very unique artifacts here, the first is Santa Anna's artificial leg,and the board that Lincoln used as a target when he tested the new Spencer repeating rifle on the front lawn of the White House.

Day Two in Springfield

Since it was cloudy and a light rain today it was a perfect day for the Lincoln Museum, this is absolutely a must see and plan on spending 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. This is all new and the building is designed so that you can't help but see everything, there is a large round lobby in the middle of the building and everything is in rooms and displays around the lobby, you enter the display from
the lobby and when you exit you are returned to the lobby. They have two movies which are about 20 minutes each, to enjoy it better see the movie "Ghost of the Library" first then "Lincoln's Eyes" in the Union Theater second, we saw them in reverse order but once you see them I think that you will see why it's better this way, no I'm not going to tell you why. Every exhibit here is done to perfection and there are about eight of them, plus they are set up so none of them are really that crowded.

When we left the museum we crossed the street to the Lincoln Library so Cathy could due a little genealogy research while I walked through the exhibit about the "Great Springfield Race Riot of 1906".

The Lincoln Depot is restored and is now the City Visitors Center.

On the drive home we decided to get our kicks on Route 66 and came across the Cozy Dog Restaurant, according to the newspaper articles on the wall this place and the owner were the inspiration for the movie"Cars" I couldn't figure out why but that's what the papers said. A Cozy Dog anywhere else in the world would be called a corn dog, but here where they were created you better order a Cozy Dog or you'll be shown the door. This was one of the original stops on the old Route 66.

Day Three in Springfield
Today was probably what we would consider a BUST. It Started out great, after driving around in circles for 30 minutes we finally managed to find Charlie Parker's Diner, the famous one that was on "Diners,Drive-ins & Dives". One of the unique foods to this city is the Horseshoe, so that's what we both ordered, it starts with two pieces of toast, covered with a few eggs, whatever style you want, followed by your choice of bacon, sausage or ham, then either hash browns or American fries and topped off with either their homemade cheese sauce or sausage gravy. This may sound like a lot and it is so we ordered the Pony which is a half order, we still had trouble getting it all down.
Tomorrow we go back for the 18 inch pancakes.

After breakfast we drove up to the Lincoln Home National Historical Site, the NPS was given controll of the house and bought up the four blockes that surround the house. They returned everything to what it would have been like when Lincoln and his family lived there, even the little Elm tree in front of the house gets replaced every few years so it will always be the size of the one that was there during the time lincoln lived there.

You have to visit the house if you are here but don't expect to much from the Rangers that work here, the Ranger that gave us the tour basicly walked us through the house and gave us very little information about Lincoln or the family. The visitors Center was nothing more then a gift shop with very little information or displays about Lincoln, and finally they show to films at the center, who ever made these films cared more about their filming technic then they did about conveying and information to the audience.
Maybe we should have done this site first, but after doing the other things this was a bit of a disappointment. One cool thing was that the banisters for the stair case are all original so when we went up stairs we were touching something that Lincoln himself had touch. I'll never wash that hand again.

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