How many people saw President Lincoln alive?

Debbie and I drove today through the worst-looking skies we’ve seen in a long time. We were on our way from New Salem, near Springfield, to Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park a little north of Kewanee, IL. The skies ahead and to both sides were very dark. We listened intently on our truck radio’s weather band to the local National Weather Service’s threatening messages about the dangerous lightning, golf ball-sized hail, and winds of sixty miles per hour. All the weather news sounded terribly ominous.

Decision time — do we turn back, find a barn to hide the trailer from the hail, or stop for lunch and let the storm pass ahead of us before we travel further toward it? While I slowed our truck Deb started map-reading to determine a bearing on the storm relative to our position. We decided the storm was going to pass safely east of our path so we continued our northerly course.

We arrived in Kewanee, IL, after the storm. They were spared the hail but did get heavy rains. Fields are badly flooded, reminding us of the widespread flooding in the Midwest this time last year. It’s too bad there isn’t a way to store all this extra water until later in the summer.

We were camped the past two days in Lincoln’s New Salem Historic Site near Springfield and spent an afternoon touring the New Salem village. The village was restored in the 1930’s to reflect the buildings and grounds from the 1830s. Many of the buildings are staffed with interpreters dressed in period costumes. We learned a lot about this midwest frontier lifestyle before we returned to our mosquito-dominated campsite. The only good thing we found about the campground is its proximity to the New Salem Historic Site.

Lincoln family's homeYesterday we spent all day touring part of Springfield. We lucked into free parking across the street from Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Our first stop was a tour of the Lincoln Home. Debbie and I were surprised at how nice and large the home was — the history books never showed us this aspect of President Lincoln’s life.

Old State Capitol, Springfield, ILWe walked through downtown Springfield to the old State Capitol Building, built in the 1830s and restored in the 1960s. Custodians lived under the gallery stairs so they could tend the many iron wood-burning stoves throughout the building. Congressional sessions were held only in winter, a necessity for the many farmer representatives. Many trees fell to keep rooms in this large building warmed.

After a brief stop at Pease’s Candy and Nuts for ice cream we continued to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Did you know more people, 1/4 of the American population, saw President Lincoln’s funeral train as it coursed from Washington, D.C. back to Springfield, IL than ever saw President Lincoln alive? This is one of many things we heard in this well-organized museum.

The museum displays were very nicely done and displayed well Abraham Lincoln’s beginnings, travel, challenges, and successes. Some of the most moving displays were a photo wall portraying people involved in the Civil War, and a wall-sized National map which, using seconds to represent weeks, ticked off the weeks from President Lincoln’s first election until his assassination and displayed the death toll, separately, for the Union and Confederate militaries.

Lincoln TombUnfortunately, President Lincoln was never so popular as he was after death. Our final stop for the day was Lincoln Tomb. This tremendous monument is the final resting place of President Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln, and three of their four sons (Robert, the eldest son, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery). The Lincoln Tomb is beautiful and impressive and seems a fitting tribute.

We enjoyed Springfield, Illinois, were blessed with great weather, and would enjoy more time in this lovely park, Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park. We have a neat site with great breezes and no bugs. What a relief after the last park. This park has great areas, a beautiful lake, and loads of walking trails.

But we will push on Friday morning. We are on our way to Madison, Wisconsin for the 52nd WBCCI Rally and Meeting, a great gathering of the association of Airstream owners. Check on us later for news on this big deal — it might be interesting!

See You Down The Road!

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2 responses to “How many people saw President Lincoln alive?

  1. Sounds like our trip West last year–always dodging the storms, wondering where to go hide from hail. Good luck with staying out of trouble.

    • Hi Randy,
      We are back in it again, doubly. We passed this morning through the darkest meanest skies we’ve driven through. I continuously was scanning for open barns I could dodge into, but was sure none would work out when I wanted them. We decided the best thing was to forge ahead north to Madison.

      We arrived just after noon, irritated the parking committee chair with our unreasonable request to not park immediately adjacent to the AC generator and facing south — all we requested is the very next space.

      We are facing north and one away from the generator, which will run continuously (and not at all silently, nor odor-free) for the next fifteen days. And I’m in trouble with Parking Committee in my first hour on campus. Now I’ll have to try extra hard for two weeks to toe the line.

      Big trouble will be if a hailstorm finds us — but we can’t dodge it, we’ll just have to bear it.

      Hope we see you here,

      Jim

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