I flew into Saint Louis for the National Park Traveler’s club annual meeting. A club member decided to host a pre-convention meet-up in Springfield, Illinois at the Lincoln Home. Springfield is the State Capital and is also home to the Dana-Thomas House National Historic Landmark.
I drove the two hours from St. Louis and arrived early enough to tour the Dana-Thomas house before heading up to the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. I watched the park’s film, toured the home with a volunteer, walked Mr. Lincoln’s Neighborhood and visited his tomb.
The Lincoln Tomb➤
While touring the National Historic Site, the rangers recommended visiting Lincoln’s tomb before heading back to St. Louis. This hadn’t been on my radar, but it was only a few miles from the park. So I headed over to Oak Ridge Cemetery.
John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865. Lincoln died from his wounds the next morning. That same day, a group of Springfield citizens formed the National Lincoln Monument Association to raise funds to construct a memorial and tomb.
The funeral train arrived in Springfield on May 4th. Lincoln’s body laid in state in the Capitol building before moving to a temporary vault. Construction finished in the 1870s. Lincoln and his sons Edward, William, and Thomas were moved to the crypt.
The president was originally placed in a large red marble sarcophagus. In 1876, criminals attempted to steal Lincoln’s body and hold it for ransom. After that, the remains were moved and hidden and then moved back to the sarcophagus. Ultimately, Robert Todd Lincoln had his father buried in a concrete vault ten feet below the burial room.
Mary Todd Lincoln joined her husband and three youngest sons in 1882 when she died. The remaining family members did not wish to be interred in the memorial.
Above the tomb is a terrace and 117-foot obelisk. Statues surround the obelisk. A reproduction of Gutzon Borglum’s head of Lincoln stands on a pedestal in front of the entrance. People rub the nose for good luck, so it’s a different color than the rest of the statue.
The mausoleum is owned and administered by the State of Illinois as Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site. It’s a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Location: 301 E Lawrence Ave, Springfield, IL
Designation: State Historic Site
Date designated/established: January 7, 1976 NHL
Date of my visit: July 13, 2022