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183. A day in Springfield… two would do justice

July 29, 2012

Springfield is not just another state capital. It is the home of one of America’s best Presidents. When we decided to visit this historic city, the idea was to soak in Abraham Lincoln’s life and times. And thus began our 3 hour train journey by Amtrak from Chicago to Springfield (the last time I took this train to St Louis it derailed). This time the three hour journey took five.

Once we reached Springfield station (which is in downtown or perhaps the downtown was created around the station) we get an instant view of the new State Capitol Building on one side. Most other Lincoln sites are on the other and within walking distance. Our first stop was the old State Capitol Building which is now a museum and well maintained with real people dressed in Lincoln era clothing found in every corner. The adjacent building is that of the well preserved Lincoln-Herndon Law offices, where Abe used to practice law before leaving for the Presidency. The guided tour of the three story office is inspiring to say the least. That done we rushed to the only National Park in the state of Illinois, to get the free passes to visit the only home that Lincoln owned and lived in. The area is three blocks away from where his office is located and one has to pass by the church Lincoln went to pray at.

The National Park is especially designated to preserve Mary and Abraham Lincoln’s 173 year old house. Between the time we spent in collecting our passes and got to the tour was a break to grab lunch and we spotted Brick House Grill for some amazing fish based plated lunch. After spending ten minutes in the house guided by rangers we walked to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) where we saw two short films in the state of the art theaters and went around to view the exhibits. This in itself is a half day adventure but we had to make do in 90 minutes as we wanted to visit two more sites before our 7.30 pm train. Off next we were to the Oak Ridge Cemetery which houses the Lincoln family’s tomb. This is a place of peace and prayer and we reached here by taxi as it is 3 miles away from downtown and would have taken an hour to walk. (FYI – Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, died in Washington DC and is buried in Springfield.)

We were back at the New State Capitol Building – which is magnificent and is the office of the Governor as well as the House of Representatives and Senate Chambers – the place where the present President cut his teeth in politics a decade ago.  We had an hour to spare and the Saturday evening in this capital city is quiet and empty. We chose to shop for some souvenirs at the Tinsley Dry Goods store and grab some ice cream at the Cold Stone Creamery and head back to board the train after a day well spent – two would be ideal.

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