Looking for Lincoln in Lincoln, Illinois

Lincoln, Illinois is the only town named Lincoln that was named for Lincoln before Lincoln became president of the United States.  In fact, on August 27, 1853, Abraham Lincoln christened the city of Lincoln, Illinois with a watermelon and the words, “Nothing with the name of Lincoln has ever amounted to much”.

Abraham Lincoln can also be found at the Lincoln Heritage Museum on the campus of Lincoln College in Lincoln, Illinois.  The Lincoln Heritage Museum is a fabulous opportunity to learn about Abe by virtually experiencing his life.

On April 15, 1865, Abraham and his wife Mary enjoy an evening out at Ford’s Theater to watch the play Our American Cousin.  The date night ends tragically when John Wilkes Booth slips into the Lincoln box and shoots President Lincoln in the head.  Lincoln lingered on the edge of death for about nine hours before the bullet proved fatal.  The Lincoln Heritage Museum is a unique opportunity to walk with Lincoln as his life flashes before his eyes during these final hours.

The tour begins in the box at Ford Theater.  As I sit on a bench behind Lincoln and his wife Mary I can hear the play Our American Cousin.  A shadow of a man with a gun appears and shoots President Lincoln in the head and jumps off the balcony.  Lincoln slumps over.  A door (a real door) opens and I’m directed by a voice to follow the light.  (Yes, follow the light as Abe follows the light.  Get it?)  I follow lights and touch items that light up and listen as voices discuss current events (from the 1800s).  It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to experience Lincoln’s life from his birth in Kentucky to his final breath in the White House.  The experience is similar to walking through a haunted house; but it’s not at all spooky.  It’s downright entertaining and educational and extremely well done.  The Lincoln Heritage Museum is a unique opportunity to experience history like you are really there.  Touring the museum is like living inside a book.

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