Friday, August 1, 2008

Illinois Strikes Out With Lincoln Fans


Say you want to journey to Illinois, the "Land of Lincoln" as it so proudly calls itself, in order to learn more about Abraham Lincoln. You've read about all the Lincoln sites in Springfield, the state's capital, and are eager to see them. Perhaps you've read about the time he spent in New Salem and want to see the reconstructed village about 25 miles from Springfield. Or maybe you really want to see the beautiful and historic old capitol building, where Lincoln gave his famous "A House Divided" speech in 1858. You've heard that the Lincoln Herndon Law Offices are worthwhile for a quick tour in order to learn more about Lincoln's law career. And of course you absolutely want to see Lincoln's tomb, an impressive and beautiful structure set in a lovely cemetery in town.

Well, you'd better plan ahead. In its infinite wisdom, the state of Illinois has dramatically slashed the budget of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency due to a financial crunch. To be sure, the state is suffering a $2 billion deficit and apparently nothing in the state budget will be spared. Not even it's most famous resident.

As a result of the crisis, the recreated village of New Salem and the old capitol building will be closed two days per week. Even Lincoln's tomb itself will be closed two days each week. And Lincoln's law office will be open only on Saturdays! Don't worry, though. You can still see "Disney-fied" history at the Lincoln Presidential Museum, even if you can't visit real historic sites associated with Lincoln when it's convenient for your vacation.

You have to wonder about the state government in Illinois. We're coming up on the bicentennial of the birth of the nation's greatest president, a national commission has been formed to celebrate the occasion, and countless other states are getting in on the act. But Illinois? It shuts down many of the best Lincoln sites in the country just as interest in Lincoln is hitting a peak! This decision might save money now, but in the long run, it will greatly affect tourism and the money it brings into the state. But what can one expect when one of the ideas for celebrating Abe is for store owners to put "Happy Birthday, Abe" on marquees in front of their stores.

Simply brilliant. So, Indiana or Kentucky, would either of you like to be the new "Land of Lincoln"? It's obvious that Illinois is willing to give up the title.

4 comments:

Christy said...

This is amazing to me! I just visited Springfield last month for the first time, and it was a very worthwhile way to spend a weekend with Mr. Lincoln. The very first things we wanted to see were the Law Offices and the Old State Capitol. After a nine hour drive in pursuit of Lincoln sites, I wanted to stand where he stood, and see the things he saw. The tomb was so moving that I had to make a repeat trip to say goodbye before I left town. I still tear up when I think about it. My ‘moments’ are induced by the real thing. I’ll admit it; I was impressed with the ALPLM, and was grateful to see the artifacts on display, but it is the Old State Capitol and the Tomb that really struck me.


I live in Nashville. I am within a reasonable day’s drive to several large cities that have fun things to do. I chose to visit Springfield just to see Lincoln sites. Sites about Lincoln are great, but sites where he was can only be found a few places, and to me, they are worth the trip. I hope they reconsider these decisions, or turn the sites over to the National Park Service…..

Christy said...

I also wanted to say thank you for your kind words about my blog. They were such an encouragement! I am new to this, and have not really found a niche or a style yet, so I was surprised to see that someone had read it and actually enjoyed it. (Especially because you write one of the blogs that I read at least once a day!)

I couldn't figure out how to send a private message through blogger, and when I saw that you moderate your comments, I thought I would send you a message this way. You don't have to post this message :-)

Thanks again,
Christy

george said...

As your state director, the idea has recently been floated to me from our national organization that Illinois should host the 2009 National Lincoln Highway Conference. It is probably getting around for time for Illinois to be the host again as the conference is an annual event that tries to rotate locations; east coast, Midwest and west coast, to show off the entire LH route. It has been several years since IL hosted the conference in Rochelle and after the Iowa conference this year it is going west again Colorado in 2007 and Wyoming in 2008.
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williamgeorge
Illinois Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Jay said...

Some one told last week that Indiana has Lincoln sites too.
He'd just bought a dvd of my 2010 show of Lincoln. As I go around, people tell me their favorite stories of Mr.Lincoln and I even add some of that to my next show. It's Fun to learn about him and see guys like Fritz Klein impersonate him.
Catch some of my stuff at http://YouTube.com/titandusk
Jay Beacham

 
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