Historic Walking Tour
Below is an outline for a Walking Tour
of Downtown Lincoln. This guide is accompanied by pictures taken
on the tour. We hope that you will find the time to take this walking
tour yourself, as it is rich in the history of Abraham Lincoln, as well
as the city of Lincoln, Illinois.
Our tour begins at
the town christening site, located at 101 N. Chicago Street:
Christening Site of Lincoln/Lincoln
Depot (101 N. Chicago St., corner of Broadway and Chicago)
You are probably aware that the forts and
settlements that became the great cities of Chicago and St. Louis were
located where they were because of the availability of water travel. The
railroad was built on a line to connect these great cities. Lincoln, as
did many other towns, sprang up along these railroads.
||In 1853, three gentlemen from Elkhart,
(which is down the road about 15 minutes on Route 66) John Dean Gillett,
Virgil Hickox, and Robert Latham, platted the village which was to become
Lincoln, Illinois. With their financial resources, and more than a little
insider information, they knew the railroad would need a full-service station
in Lincoln. At that time, trains could only travel about 30 miles before
they needed water and wood again. There was a station in Springfield and
Bloomington, but one was needed here in Lincoln. (Lincoln Depot pictured
|They filed the proper paperwork and hired
Abraham Lincoln as their attorney. A popular folk tale was that the blocks
along the railroad are longer than they are deep. The legend states that
John Logan, who was 5'6" walked East to West and Abraham Lincoln who was
6'4", walked North to South, making the blocks rectangular in shape. The
land abutting the railroad would be more valuable than the land away from
the railroad. When asked if they could name the city Lincoln, he stated,
"You can if you want, but nothing named Lincoln ever amounted to much."
Lincoln was asked to speak at the christening and a young man was selling
watermelon from his wagon. Lincoln approached the wagon, selected a watermelon,
cut it open with his pocketknife, and squeezing the juice on to the ground,
christened the city of Lincoln on August 27, 1853. (Christening monument
||Abraham Lincoln frequented this city by
train after its founding. As president-elect, Lincoln came here on November
21, 1860. He stopped near the Deopt to make a few remarks from the rear
of his train. This was his last spech in Logan County and the last time
Lincoln would visit his namesake city, until his funeral train stopped
here on May 3, 1865. The current depot was built in 1911.
Logan County Illinois Genealogical &
Historical Society (114 N. Chicago St)
|The Society's goals are to encourage the
preservation of the family from the past, to the present, for the future.
To preserve local history and to maintain a Research Center for a centralized
collection of Logan County's resources.
||Also at this location is the Lincoln Room.
This room houses the LCGHS collection of Abraham Lincoln books, plates,
photographs, and memorabilia.
State Bank of Lincoln (111 N. Sangamon
St., corner of Broadway and Sangamon)
Abraham Lincoln met sculptor Leonard Volk
on the boardwalk in front of the Lincoln House Hotel. Volk asked Lincoln
to pose for a bust and life mask of his face and hands. Signed copies of
the masks, as well as original artwork by Lloyd Ostendorf of Lincoln in
Logan County, are on display in this building's lobby.
||This artwork is located in the foyer of
the State Bank of Lincoln. It includes a large throw picturing the Christening
of Lincoln, as well as a bust and several facial models of Abraham Lincoln.
This statue of Abraham Lincoln depicts
a part of the Christening Scene. At his feet is the watermelon he used,
and in his hand is the tin cup the juice was poured from.
At the top of this picture, you can see
a mold of Abraham Lincoln's hands. At the bottom of the image are footprints,
matching those of Lincoln as well. For a few moments, you can put your
hands in his, and stand in his shoes.
Site of the Lincoln House Hotel (501
The Lincoln House was one of the best hotels
between St. Louis and Chicago during it's time. It stood on this location
from 1854 to 1870. Nearly all the politicians of that time came to the
Lincoln House at some point, including Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas,
David Davis, and Richard Ogelsby. The Lincoln House was originally a two
story structure that featured a large veranda.
|The plaque shown at the right was placed
in 1964 by the Lincoln Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary Clubs and the Illinois
State Historical Society. It gives a brief description of the history of
||The building shown left is at least the
third and maybe the fourth building to occupy this space. The original
building, built in 1854, burned soon thereafter, as did most of downtown
Lincoln. While excavating for a later rebuild, catacombs were found under
the building which may have been used as hiding places for slaves in the
Underground Railroad. These Underground Railroad tunnels are speculated
to be used by gangsters in the 1930s.
Logan County Courthouse - Exterior (Downtown
||Pictured Left - Civil War Veteran's Statue
- Dedicated to the Logan County military who died in the Civil War.
Civil War Cannon - Used in the Civil War
by the Logan County artillery unity (sign). Robert Logan, son of our namesake
of our county, was in the U.S. Legislature and felt that a day of remembrance
for those who died in the Civil War was in order. He then was the head
of the committee who established the first "Memorial Day."
|Indian Mother - Originally erected in
1906 (year after 3rd courthouse was dedicated) to remember our Native American
heritage and the namesakes for many streets, sites, and even the state
This building from ground to dome top
is 125 feet. The dome is 52 feet in diameter and a height of 60 feet. The
Seth Thomas clocks are each nine feet in diameter. At the Broadway entrance
is a tablet that pays homage to Abraham Lincoln.
|The beautiful Cleveland sandstone Courthouse
is the third county courthouse to stand on this site. The first courthouse
here, built in 1855, burnt in April 15, 1857, losing many valuable records,
including many back-owed taxes from Logan County residents. The fire was
listed as "suspicious," as it started in several locations at midnight.
The second courthouse was then constructed and torn down in 1903 to make
way for this modern structure. The present building was completed in 1905,
one hundred and one years ago, and continues to fully function as our Logan
Logan County Courthouse - Interior (Downtown
2nd Floor - The mosaic of the state seal
is on the dome floor on the first level. It can best be viewed from the
second story. The first and second floors hold county offices. The second
floor courtroom features the original 1905 furniture, including leather
seats and foot rails.
3rd Floor - Paintings on the third floor
show the history of Logan County. Elkhart Hill, site of the first white
settlement, brought us the three men who plotted Lincoln, Illinois. Logan
County was originally part of Sangamon County. Logan County became its
own county in 1839. Postville Courthouse was built in 1840 to hold the
first of the new county's courthouse needs and was also an 8th circuit
courthouse where Abraham Lincoln traveled throughout five counties twice
a year to hear various legal cases. With a population shift closer to Mt.
Pulaski, Mt. Pulaski petitioned and was granted the county seat in 1847,
when the new Mt. Pulaski Courthouse was built and was used as the 8th Circuit
Courthouse for Logan County. The Mt. Pulaski Courthouse is one of only
two original 8th Circuit courthouses still in existence today. In 1853,
with the coming of the railroad, the population shifted back toward Lincoln.
Lincoln petitioned and Abraham Lincoln presented this petition to the legislature
that named Lincoln, Illinois as the new county seat that was granted at
the election of 1854.
Phone Booth (Sighted from Courthouse
Cannon area - City Hall Roof - Corner of McLean and Broadway)
||The Phone Booth, on the City Hall roof,
was the original place, during WWII, for sky watchers to watch for civil
defense. Later, they erected this phone booth to use for a weather spotting
station. It had a full-functioning telephone to warn the people below that
threatening weather was sighted. A few years back, for roof repairs, they
were going to remove the phone booth. Public outcry demanded that it be
replaced as it is a unique Lincoln icon.
Lincoln Lot Site (523 Pulaski St.) -
A plaque located on the right hand side of this store identifies the location
as a lot that Abraham Lincoln once owned.
||Three Roses Building (123 S. Kickapoo
middle of block across from courthouse west)
This is the only property in Lincoln, Illinois
that Abraham Lincoln owned upon his death. He co-owned this property
with his good friend and fellow attorney, Samuel Parks.
|Arcade (middle of block across from
Horses were the means of travel back then,
and this was the place for travelers to place their horses, have them brushed,
watered, and rested.
Site of the Rustic Inn (Privately-Owned
Building Across Alley to Vintage Fare Building 412 Pulaski - across alley
||This was a local pub where three men from
Mt. Pulaski planned to steal the dead President's body and hide it just
south of us in the Bear Caves at Lincoln Lakes. Unfortunately, they were
drinking and spoke loudly of things that should be whispered. They were
overheard by the bar maid who informed authorities. On the night of the
"great heist," they were apprehended before they could even enter the tomb.
for them, the attempted theft of a body was a misdemeanor and they received
very light sentences. But because of this plot to take a President's body,
the laws were changed to make it a federal felony, with very stiff punishment.