Top 10 US Abraham Lincoln Sites to Visit

Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln / From a painting by G. P. A. Healy, 1868

If you love Abraham Lincoln, these top 10 sites are a must see! Some of the sites are well known to be associated with Lincoln, but there are a few that are often overlooked or overshadowed. A trip to these top 10 Lincoln sites will be well worth your time, even if you are an expert Lincolnite.

Birthplace Log Cabin

The birthplace cabin which is housed in the Memorial Building located at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Kentucky is a shrine to Lincoln. For many years people revered the log cabin almost as if it were a temple of a God. But according to The National Park Service, the cabin is a “traditional” representation of the original Lincoln birthplace cabin and not the actual cabin where he was born. Yet, it is worth a trip to see the log cabin for what it means: a symbol of Lincoln’s humble origins.

Lincoln Memorial

Open to the public since 1922, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. houses a 19 foot seated statue of Lincoln which weighs 175 ton. Above the statue is written a quote worthy of the man: “In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.” Written on the adjacent walls are the famous Gettysburg Address (1863) and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address given on March, 1865. Each writing is an evidence of Lincoln’s genius and continues to be an encouragement to Americans everywhere.

Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg National Military ParkPhoto by Jared Thomas Barton

“Fourscore and seven years ago…” When Lincoln read the now famous 2 minute speech on November 19, 1863, no one could have guessed it would be marked as a defining document in American history or the English language. The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War with over 51,000 casualties including dead, injured, and lost soldiers. Today, the Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, PA marks their sacrifices and the “hallowed ground” continues to be a great place to visit for those who love Civil War history or for those wanting to learn more about Abraham Lincoln.

New Salem

Approximately 20 miles from Springfield, IL sits New Salem – a replica village showing the area where Lincoln stayed as a young adult in the 1830s. Lincoln lived, loved, worked, and played in this village. He was a store clerk, postmaster, soldier in the Black Hawk War, rail splitter, wrestler, lover, deputy surveyor, failed businessman, and politician during his stay in New Salem. An expanse of 12 log houses, mills, workshops, stores and a school building occupy acres of land that can be trekked on foot to experience a moment in history.

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, IL was established on October 9, 1972. The house was built in 1839 and the Lincolns purchased it in 1844 for $1,500. He lived in the house with his family for seventeen years. They expanded it over the years, birthed their children in it, and even experienced the death of one of their children in the house. It remains the only home ever owned by Lincoln. The park includes a total of four and a half blocks over 12 acres of land and it is completely walkable and free.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum wanted to create a “memorial …to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States…” And so he chose the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln to represent his vision. Mount Rushmore located in South Dakota was a major undertaking with several people’s combined efforts to make it a success. Today, people can visit it and enjoy the beauty and majesty of both the mountains and the looming figures that stand out from them.

Ford’s Theatre

Site of Lincoln’s assassination, the Ford’s Theatre is located in Washington D. C. On April 14, 1865, actor John Wilkes Booth shot and killed President Abraham Lincoln in cold blood. The site was where Lincoln, along with his wife Mary Todd Lincoln and some friends, were watching a comedy performance of a play called Our American Cousin. 26 year old Confederate sympathizer Booth entered the Presidential Box and shot Lincoln at close range on the back of his head. Booth then jumped off from the balcony to the stage, injured himself, but managed to escape. Lincoln died the next day, changing the course of American history and the world.

Basement of Ford’s Theatre

Lincoln’s Tomb State Historic Site

Lincoln’s Tomb State Historic Site in Springfield, IL is the final resting place of Lincoln, his wife, and three of his sons. Constructed around 1860, the tomb holds Lincoln’s body in a concrete vault ten feet under the floor of the burial chamber. Although an attempt was made in 1876 to steal his body, Lincoln, for now, rests in his tomb for eternity.

Lincoln – Herndon Law Offices

The restored Lincoln – Herndon Law Offices in Springfield, IL are a must see site for all Lincoln lovers. The only standing building that once housed Lincoln’s law office which he shared with his partner William H. Herndon, has plenty of stories to tell of its own. Built by Seth M. Tinsley in the Greek Revival style, Lincoln occupied the building in 1843 and stayed there until 1852. Had he retired from the presidency, Lincoln intended to come back to his law practice in Springfield, IL one day.

Lincoln Herndon Law OfficesDaniel Schwen

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

Located in Spencer County in southern Indiana, Lincoln’s Boyhood National Memorial is the site of Lincoln’s childhood home from 1816 – 1830. This is where Lincoln came of age and developed in his wit, wisdom, and storytelling skills. It is also the final resting place of his mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln. The park has 5 beautiful sculpted panels located at the Memorial Building. Created by sculptor E. H. Daniels, each panel depicts a moment in Lincoln’s life. Also of interest is the Cabin Site Memorial which has a bronze casting marking the location of the 1829 Lincoln cabin, the Lincoln Spring where Lincoln played with his friends, and the Lincoln Living Historical Farm which is the original site of Lincoln’s father, Thomas Lincoln’s farm.

With plenty of things to see and do, these top 10 Lincoln sites offer history buffs great opportunities to explore new locations and learn more about their favorite US President. Most of the sites are either free, low cost or accept donations. Come wearing comfortable shoes and be prepared to trek through history and experience Lincoln as you have never before.

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