Friday, June 4, 2010

My day on "The Lincoln Trail"

One week ago today, I began the day by visiting the Civil War Museum in Bardstown, as a previous entry mentioned, and then took a trip to My Old Kentucky Home.

After that, began my tour of what I called the "Lincoln Trail" by heading towards the town of Hodgenville, planning to stop at Knob Creek, the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln from age 2 through age 7. I arrived there and was pleased by what I saw. It is not a fancy park, just an open field next to a creek, with a sample of a garden like the Lincoln's may have grown on the same spot. Its simplicity and natural beauty made it a fine place to stop, as I even got a chance to walk by the banks of the creek, seeing minnows and crawdads swimming in the same waterway where Lincoln may have played some as a young boy.

Here are a couple pictures from this stop, the first of the field and the second of the creek.

That was an enjoyable stop, but after a few minutes of soaking in the scene and realizing that Lincoln had walked these very grounds, I jumped back into the car and headed down the road to visit the national park at his birth site.

A funny thing happened on the way, however. While on the road, I came into the actual town of Hodgenville and was greeted by a view I had seen online but not before in person

This statue, even more impressive in person than by photo (and the sculpture of Lincoln as a young boy at the other end of this area, from behind where I took this photo) really caught my attention, and then brought my eyes to a building that had "Lincoln Museum" on the outside. After a brief moment of pause, wondering if I should momentarily forget my goal of going to the place of his birth to see this museum I had never seen, I came to my senses and pulled into a parking spot right outside its door.

This Lincoln Museum really impressed me. The use of mannequins (for lack of a better term) and painted scenes (perhaps dioramas is the proper word) to show several important moments of Lincoln's life really caught my attention. I must admit that not all the figures looked like the President, especially seeming to miss some of the lines in his face, but that mattered not at all. Each scene was really neat, and a couple really were almost even stunning in the effect they had on me, especially the last one showing the President and his wife sitting in Ford's Theater. I stared at that particular scene for quite a while and did not want to leave. Had they thought to put a figure of Booth coming in the door, that may have floored me right there. It really struck me in the gut to see that scene and think about what the near future held.

Their  other exhibits, of Lincoln items and of items from his period, are also neat, and they have a large display of Lincoln related art as well.

I really had not heard of this museum before, but highly recommend it to anyone who travels to this area. It is simply wonderful.

After getting the lumps in my throat from that scene finally out, I headed back to the road and made the three mile trip to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site. Unfortunately for me, construction is taking place on the memorial building that houses the reproduction of the Lincoln cabin, so I could not enter it or enjoy walking the 56 steps up to it (see the picture below) but the park museum has a nice display and it was still worth the trip to be on the very land where such a great man was born. It was the last stop I made on my 2 day "vacation" last week and it was an appropriate place to end such a fun couple of days. That land is truly hallowed ground.

Central and Western Kentucky has a surprising amount of Civil War related historical sites and stops, and I did not even see them all, but for a quick trip and late spring vacation, I certainly picked some great places to visit and with the luck of good weather on my side had a wonderful time at each one that I've described here. If anyone reading this is ever in that area, please take advantage of any time you may have and visit one or more of these fantastic sites.

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