Looking for Lincoln June 12-14, 2012 Springfield, IL.
More than once in my life I have set out on an adventure, not knowing full
well where I was going, what I was getting into, what I would find, etc. Such
was the case when I and my photo-buddy started this adventure. We were
sitting at Subway, our office, one evening, chatting about our next photo
adventure. Living less than 100 miles from Springfield, IL., where I had
heard there was a lot of Lincoln history, I had wanted to go there some day.
While having the little chat with my buddy, I threw out the idea of "finally"
going to Springfield solely for the purpose of seeing all we could see that
related to Lincoln, in a few days time.
After more chat, we agreed that two full days should
just about cover all that we had heard about, so
chose two days, but added one for good luck,
making it three, just to be safe. Then we checked our
calendars, chose the dates, and we were set to go.
Now we had a "time to leave and a time to get back".
Everything in the middle was up for grabs.. Turned
out to be one of the best trips I have been on in a
long time. We really needed the third day, and could
have very well made good use of another one,
maybe two even...
We left home early Tuesday morning, June 12, 2012.
We arrived in Springfield, IL., around 10:30 AM.
Ralph had done some research, and had found us a
potential hotel. We checked it out, thought it to meet
our needs, and we signed the papers for a two night
stay.. Good thing we did, an FFA event came into
town and filled up most all the rooms around the
area! But, we had ours, so we were covered. Once
checked it, we were on the discovery trail "Looking
for Lincoln", and find him we did.. There is most likely
a lot more Lincoln history in the town than we saw,
but we saw a lot, and we got lucky with our timing. At
the first stop, the Old Capitol Building, we learned
there would be a lowering of the flag ceremony at
7:00 PM that evening. This set the tone for the trip, I
think.. The more we looked, the more we found, and
the faster we went to see everything. We did our
three days, full days, and came home with great
memories and some pretty neat memory photos.
As the adventure progressed, I wrote summaries of
each day and sent them back home to friends and
family. Attached to each message was a set of
photos from the day. Instead of retelling the story just
for the this website, I will share with you the exact
messages and photo links that I sent to my friends.
I hope you enjoy the reading part and the photos you
will see if you follow the links!
Day 1, June 12, 2012
Good morning from Springfield, IL. It is now Wednesday morning, and as most of
you know, I came to Springfield yesterday with my photo buddy, Ralph, to see
some of the history in this town as it relates to Abe Lincoln.. So far, it has
been great fun.. Springfield in only 90 or so miles from St. Louis, but this is
the first time I have come here to be a tourist and see all the Lincoln history
items.. We arrived here around 10 AM, found the public parking, which was under
the old state capitol. While trying to find our way out of the parking garage, a
worker found us in our lost condition and arranged for us to ride the employee
elevator straight up and into the old state capitol where people were just
getting started with their day.. This is the building where Obama
announced he would be running for president.
In the old state capitol, it was only seconds before we were found and offered
a tour, which we gladly took.. Was great.. The workers there really know their
history, and seem to really love giving the tours, etc. Once the tour of the old
state capitol was complete, we were off to see the Lincoln Museum. The museum is
a must see item.. There are some old items from the past of course, but there
are a couple of theaters that are awesome.. They use some special effects to
really wow you with the information they are presenting. The shows are rather
magical, and I think I am correct in saying they use a lot, if not all of the
>Disney type special effects for the presentations..
There are fees to go through the museum, but they are worth it. Most
adults ticket prices are 12 dollars, however, with my retired DOD card, I was
able to get in for seven dollars. Also, people are only allowed to take photos
in the main entrance and in the open hall area, plus an extra area or two.. I
did pretty good with this, but got confused and took a few photos in an area I
was not supposed to take photos.. I did not get caught, I did get some really
neat photos, but, after finding out I was not in a "photo" area, I elected to
not share those photos in the set that will be shared with this message, as
these photos will be available to the public now that they are on FLICKR.
We were in the museum from around 1 PM till it closed at 5 PM.. I barely finished
the visit before our time was up!!! But, we learned that there would be a
special flag lowering ceremony at the Lincoln Tomb, at 7 PM. This is something
that is done only on Tuesdays during the summer season. So, we rushed off, got a
hotel room, rechecked our camera gear and headed off to the tomb for the show.
It was great. I hope the photos give you a fair idea of the visit to the
tomb. We arrived just as a plane was flying towards the monument.. Looked like
it was going to hit it head on, but of course, it did not, but.... We toured the
tomb area, watched the flag lowering, and the presentation. At each flag
lowering ceremony, a visitor is selected to receive the flag. This time a man
and his wife, that we had just been doing photos with, were selected to get the
flag.. Was neat!
After the flag presentation, the tomb was opened for about one half hour for a
walk through tour. When you see the Lincoln Tombstone, think about this, he
is now buried some 10 feet under it, and then covered with several tons of
concrete. Many years ago, someone tried to steal his body. It is very
unlikely that anyone will ever see his body again. If memory serves me
correctly, his casket was opened on a number of occasions in earlier years, just
to be sure he was still in there!!!!!!!!!
OK, it is now Wednesday morning, time to go eat, and get started on another day
of viewing history!!! I expect we will be mostly in this town, but tomorrow, we
move on to New Salem and Petersburg, then back home! Stay tuned and watch
for the photos, if I can get them out.. I am sharing the first set here.. Hope
you enjoy the few minutes it takes to see the slide show, and that you will be
encouraged to come here and see the history for yourself, if you have not
Day 2, June 13, 2012
I have just completed my second day in Springfield, IL., where I continued my visit to
historical places that relate to the life and times of Abe Lincoln, while he was in this town.
Was a great day, saw neat stuff, and I had great weather!!
This morning my photo buddy and I hurried down to the historic area to get an early start
on our day. Our first planned stop was the Lincoln Law Office. We arrived a few minutes
before it opened at 0900. Once inside, we met Maggie who gave us information and
presented us with "Looking For Lincoln" buttons.. Will have to get a photo of mine, to
After the small talk was over, we took a tour of the building! We learned that this was one
of five(?) offices Lincoln worked in while in this town. This is the only one known to
survive! We joined the first tour of the day, and away we went. Nice tour, but we learned
that an 80 year old woman would be coming in later this day to do the guide work. We
wanted to see her, so later in the day, we returned and took the tour again, but with this
lady.. She was neat.. Glad we came back for the second tour!
From the law office, we went to the Lincoln Library. In it, we were able to see a small
display they had in the hall ways. Was kinda neat. I think is was named "The boys in blue".
We were not allowed to take any photos in the library, period!
Once out of the library, we continued our adventure. At one point we visited the Survey
Museum, which Ralph had learned about from someone at the program we went to
yesterday evening. This visit did not start very well, as we were greeted by summer
interns, who knew nearly nothing, but, soon we met up with a real guide there, and we
were off and learning! The main attraction here is the Sphere Projection, or at least I think
that is what it is called. Someone came up with a way to project images/videos onto a
sphere.. It is awesome!!! I could still be there watching projections, if I had the time, etc.
Much, if not all of the projections are from data provided by NOAA. We watched the effects
of air flights around the world as the time of day changed. We watched the spread of
viruses as they spread around the world. We say the real time recordings earthquakes,
etc. Was worth the trip to Springfield just to see this thing.. I think they told us that there
were 80 of these things in the world. You have to see it. There are, at this time, over 360
different projections to watch! You have to ask to seem them, but they will keep them
running till you run out of time!!!!!
We also visited the Visitor Center located in the old train station. Not much to see here.!
We hurried over to see Lincoln's Home. To see it, we had to get free tickets, provided by
the NPS, in their visitor center. We also watched the video they offered. Problem was, the
seating was the worst I have been had in ages! The seating was sort of bench seats by
design, but they leaned the wrong way or something. I almost did survive the short movie!
We joined the tour at 3 PM, and got to see and photograph the whole inside of the Lincoln
Home. Was neat. And, we saw the three hole outhouse. This one comes with three holes
that are designed for use by ladies in the big dresses.. Try to image all three seats being
used at the same time!!
We had heard earlier that the Vachel Lindsay Home was neat, so we made a dash to see
it. Had a bit of trouble finding it. Part of the issue was me, I was misreading the map, and,
the map was poor at best! We finally found it after asking several people! We arrived just
before 4 PM, did a tour with a lady named Jennie?, who did an awesome job. She has
been giving tours in the historical buildings for many years! She says they will not let her
This tour ended at 5 PM. We had hoped to get to the Dana-Thomas House, but ran out of
time. We hope to see it in the morning before heading out to New Salem. Once finished
there, we will head back to STL.
I am sharing another set of photos here that were taken on my visit today! Check them out
if you have time. Note, the furniture in the Lincoln Law Office was not there when he was
there. But, what is there is furniture that came from the same time period. The furniture in
the Lincoln Home and Lindsay Home, is the real stuff..
Here is the link to today's images:
Day 3, June 14, 2012
It is complete! The adventure trip to Springfield, IL., to touch history as it relates to
Abraham Lincoln, is over. My photo buddy and I returned to our home bases around 8:00
PM Thursday night! Was a great trip. We had pretty much the best of everything, to
include great weather, interesting things to see and do, discovery of things not known to
exist, and had some really good luck, most of the time. I am a big fan of Subways, but in
this town where there are several, the first one had poor service and bad tea. How could
anyone screw up the tea? The second one had an attitude issue.. Their prices were extra
high and they had some kind of drink refill policy that irritated me.. We saw the prices, the
sign on the drink machine, and, we walked out. The third one was great. The service was
fast, the attitude was great, the meal was just what I would have expected.. All men may
be created equal, but not all Subways are created equal!!!!!!
Our last day, the third day of this adventure, was cram packed full of action. We were up
and on the streets early. Our original goal for this day was to drive to New Salem, visit the
historic area, then head home, but, we ran out of time on day two, and did not get to see
the Dana-Thomas House, so, we rushed over to do that tour the first thing this morning.
Actually I did not even know there was a Dana-Thomas House in the world, until I arrived
in Springfield and learned about it at one of the visitor centers. It would seem that there
was a man named Frank Lloyd Wright, who back around 1900, was making a name for
himself designing and building very unique type homes and buildings in general.. I cannot
remember all the details provided, but around 1900, there was a young lady in Springfield,
IL., whose father made a lot of money in his life and provided her with mucho dollars to
spend. She asked Mr. Wright to remodel her family home. As it turns out, she more or less
gave Mr. Wright a blank check to do the remodel. The work took some two years to
complete. In the process, the original family home more or less disappeared! The final
product looked nothing like the original home. I understand the average "Nice' American
Home at that time would cost around 4000 dollars. This one cost the lady 60,000 dollars to
We arrived at the Dana-Thomas House a bit before 0900, the opening time for tours, and
took photos outside the building, until the gate opened. Once inside, we expected to have
to turn our cameras in as hostages until the tours were over, as the signs said NO
CAMERAS.. When we offered to surrender our cameras during the tour, they acted as if
they did not know what we were talking about. We reminded them of what the sign said..
They said that was an OLD SIGN, and was no longer in effect. But, what was true here
and in some of the other places is that no photography is allowed. This was explained as
being related to the commercial side of their business. They wanted to sell you their
photos! Makes sense, I guess. So, if you go there, you can take your camera inside the
buildings, but you are asked to not take photos. Outside the buildings is fine, just not
The tours are free, but there is a sign asking for a 4 dollar donation for each adult who
goes on the tour. Seems fair enough to me. We learned that not too long ago, this building
was bought and restored for historic reasons. The cost to do this was in the millions!! I
forgot just how many, but a lot!!!!!!! At four dollars per person, they will never get their
money back, I don't think. That said, it was worth the four dollars to see the inside of the
place.. The inside was very unique, to say the least. Truth being told, I would not live in a
place like this even if it was free. This had to be about the poorest excuse for a house to
live in that I have ever been in. The space was more like a puzzle that a home, and every
room was DARK.. There was damn few lights in the place, and the ones that were there
were extra small. To add to the problems, there were at least a million places to clean, that
were hard to get to.. The furniture was not designed for comfort, just to be looked at..
There is lots of dark wood in the house, and lots of stained glass, etc.. The tour was
limited to only a part of the home. There was quite a bit of it that we did not get to see.
If you know a lot about Mr. Wrights work, then you may know a lot about this house, if not,
I am sure there is lots of details about it on the internet. In the photos I share this time, I
could only do photos of the outside. Many of the photos are from my time before the tour,
but then others were taken on the tour, so there is some overlap, etc. All said and done, it
was a neat thing to do, to see the place and take the tour, but I am glad someone else
owns it and takes care of it, not me! The tour was over at 10:30ish, then we were on our
way to a place called the New Salem State Historic Site.
We arrived at the New Salem Historic State Historic Site a little after 11:00 AM, as it is
maybe 20 plus miles north west of Springfield. I think we expected to see lots of people,
but no, we were about the only ones there. So, parking, getting info, etc was a snap. This
place, like most all the others, does not charge an entrance fee, but does ask for a four
dollar donation, per person.
Most everything a person comes here to see, is outside. It is a self-guided walking tour of
old buildings which are replica buildings built by the CCC men, back around 1930ish. I am
not sure of the towns history, but I was told Abe Lincoln did live and work here for several
years. The site was rebuilt from drawings and maps that still existed long after the town
was gone, leaving behind only the foundations of the original buildings. When I asked
what happened to the original town and the original buildings, I was told, they just up and
moved. It would seem that with time, this area and these buildings, no longer met the
needs of the people, so they moved away, and they took the buildings with them. I was
told some relocated to places like Petersburg, but others kept going. So, how did the town
come to be in the beginning, I was told a developer started it, much like developers do
today. A man knew of this area, bought some government land, put up a Grass mill and
saw mill, close to water and farmland, then ran ads back east, telling people of these new
lots of land for sale that had much to offer. The ads attracted many people who could
support themselves by doing coppers work, blacksmithing, etc. I think the walking tour
includes some 24 different rebuilt homes, etc. I think we managed to see 23 of them before
our legs gave out and we headed home. The one site we missed did not really offer a
building to see, but rather a dig, or study area.
The weather this day was great. We started the site walk around noon, and finished some
three hours later. At one point on the tour, someone pointed out to us that there was photo
op at the back of the church we were in. Turns out, there were two baby raccoons trying
to hide on the fireplace.!!
Note, there is a program of some kind that tries to attract people to volunteer here as
'workers", simulating the work and skills of the original people who lived here. On this day,
there was a volunteer cooper working here. Later we met a college age man who was
doing blacksmith work. He was part of a program that brought 6 college students each
year to dress up and work in the village, to simulate life in the village of the past. The
blacksmith was studying to be a biology person. He was the only male in the group. The
other five were females and I believe they were all business majors. All were from an
Our visit to the old site was complete around 3:30, I think. We toured the visitor center,
then headed over to Petersburg, two miles away, just to look around. We arrived at 4 PM,
found a Subway, had dinner and was intending to head home, but saw a treat shop, so
chose to stop for a treat to celebrate the trip, before heading home. We walked into the
treat shop just 10 minutes before the official closing time of 5 PM. On the outside of the
building was a big sign that said "SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM".. On the inside, I asked the
lady who asked if she could help us, if the that sign was true, did they have soft serve ice
cream. She said it was the real deal, and that she also had the best milk shakes, etc in the
state, maybe the world! After checking out the serving sizes and the prices, I went for the
large strawberry milkshake. Ralph got the chocolate one. Since I was told this would be
the best shake in the world, I needed a photo of it! So, out to the car I went, got my
camera, returned and got ready. When the shake arrived, I took a photo of it.. And, I had
learned that Terri, who made the shake, was also the shop owner, so I took her photo as
well.. Really neat lady, and she knew of the place where I live when I am in Oklahoma, as
she too had lived in Oklahoma at one time, not far from where my place is now.
Terri was correct, the shake was the best!!!!!! Loved every bit of it.. Was GREAT.. If you
are ever in Petersburg, IL., you have to stop here and get a treat of some kind. The
shakes are super good.. To add a note here, the shop actually closed just after we walked
in, but true to country to style, we were not thrown out, but rather was invited to stay and
continue enjoying the shop, etc. The lady who took my money for the shake was a lady
named Katelyne. She too was super friendly, and showed a big interest in my camera, and
the subject of photography.. In short order, I had given her a short course on photography,
and was letting her do the documentary photos. The photo of me and my shake was taken
by Katelyne. This shop also has WIFI, and I tried to use it, but my laptop locked up and I
was unable to do my email etc, there.. Got the issue resolved later, on the road, but the
shop did have WIFI.. I think it was 6 Pm or so when we got out of there! We did stop for a
coffee and a restroom break at McDonalds and then again at a rest area. Other than that
we were headed home. And as I mentioned earlier, we arrived home around 8 PM.. Was a
GREAT trip. While gone, I got several responses from readers of my road reports. It
would seem a good number of people on my list have been to this area. Some were here
as kids, others were here much later. One lady reported having been to the new museum
three times so far!!!!!! If you have been to this area, consider returning, it is fun. If you
have not been here, do it. It-is-fun!! I will say however, we got lucky on some things. The
flag lowering only happens on Tuesday evenings at the Lincoln Tomb, and only during the
summer. Also, the Dana-Thomas House does not open each week until Wednesday, I
think. So, if you come here to look around, check these types of things before you travel!!!
The link to the images I am sharing is presented below. Be warned, it is a long set! Total
photos taken on the trip was somewhere over 2100!!!!!!! I edited out a lot of them, of
course! Hope you enjoy the photos.
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Tom Ballard Photography