Saturday, August 20, 2005

Other Attractions in Springfield, Illinois

There are other things to do and see in Springfield, many of which will bring Lincoln's life and times vividly home for the visitor. There are other attractions as well.

Twenty miles northwest of town, the state of Illinois has recreated the village of New Salem where the young Lincoln lived, first fell in love, and began his career in politics.

A faithful replica of the old Illinois State House, where Lincoln served in the state legislature, is just blocks from the presidential library and museum. The staff there do a fantastic job of explaining the place's history and significance. Lincoln, as a member of the Sangamon County legislative delegation, played a central role in moving the state capital from Vandalia to Springfield. That particular delegation was referred to as the Long Nine, a nod to their almost uniform tall heighth.

The Lincoln-Herndon law offices are located on the square across the street from the old State House.

Lincoln's home is located at the corner of Eighth and Jackson. It is restored to its appearance when he and his growing brood lived there, as is the surrounding neighborhood. The National Park Service has done a wonderful job with this restoration. (When I visited there back in 1968 and 1969, only the Lincoln home was restored.)

The Lincoln Tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery is an impressive monument to the President. It sets atop a hill and is crowned by an obelisk. Lincoln's wife and three of the couple's sons are buried there as well. Two of his sons died before the President did. Another son died seven years after his assassination. When one recalls that, like the President, Mary Todd Lincoln's mother died during her childhood, it is difficult to imagine the depths of her ongoing grief. (Unlike Lincoln, whose stepmother loved him and treated him well, Mary Todd's stepmother was unkind to the girl, one reason why she lived with her sister in Springfield as soon as she was able to make such a decision for herself.)

A house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, which we were unable to visit because it wasn't open while we were in Springfield, is an attraction that might lure us back soon.

Another attraction we were unable to see was the home of poet Vachel Lindsay. (For more on Lindsay, click here.)

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