Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 23, 2013

A step back in history

Indiana's Lincoln sites are unique

By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — LINCOLN CITY – On a crisp fall day in southern Indiana, it was amazingly easy to be transformed back to 1816 thinking of Abraham Lincoln walking these trails during his growing up years.

Lincoln’s father, Thomas, moved the family from Kentucky to southern Indiana in the same year Indiana joined the Union as the 19th state.

We are all products of our environment and, for Lincoln, his youth was spent in rural Indiana from the age of eight until the age of 20.

At the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, the visit starts at the Memorial’s Visitor Center where there are several relief sculpture panels depicting Lincoln’s life in Indiana. There are exhibits and displays on what life would have been like in the mostly uninhabited region of the state.

A short walk takes you pass a pioneer cemetery where Nancy Hanks Lincoln was buried on a hill. It leads to the site of the Lincoln cabin, designated by a bronze casting of logs and fireplace hearthstones. Nearby is Lincoln Spring, the main source of water for the family.

There is a historical living farm with a recreated 1820s homestead with living history interpreters explaining life on the frontier.

On the return trip there is the Trail of Twelve Stones with significant stones and cement blocks that played an important part in the 16th president’s career. I did take the opportunity to stand on a stone where Lincoln made his famous “Gettysburg Address”.

The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is surrounded by forests and farm fields and there is an extended nature trail; again, reviving the thought Lincoln hiked in these woodlands.

Directly across from the National Memorial is Indiana’s Lincoln State Park, which was established in 1932.

Near the entrance is the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Plaza with many key moments in Lincoln’s growth from boy to manhood. On the reverse side is a bust of Lincoln.

Several trails in the park take visitors to places Lincoln would have visited during his years in the Hoosier State.

The John Carter trail (2.1 miles), named after a neighbor of the Lincolns, extends to Lake Lincoln. The Sarah Lincoln Grigsby Trail is named after Lincoln’s oldest sister and weaves through a nature preserve.

The James Gentry Trail extends 3.7 miles to the place where the store, where Lincoln worked and the family spent their last night before moving to Illinois. Mr. Lincoln’s Neighborhood Trail goes past the Gordon Mill, the Gordon Home and the Little Pigeon Primitive Baptist Church where Sarah Lincoln Grigsby is buried.

“My childhood-home I see again, And gladden with the view: And still as mem’ries crowd my brain, There’s sadness in it too,” Lincoln wrote in 1845 of his Indiana experience.

The park also includes the Lincoln Amphitheater where performances of “A. Lincoln: A Pioneer Tale” take place in June. Other performances take place during the remainder of the summer months.