Lands of Lincoln pt 2 (southern Indiana)

Three states get to claim Lincoln as their “son.” Kentucky gets bragging rights because he was born there. Indiana gets bragging rights because he lived there for a few years when he was a boy. And Illinois (the self-proclaimed ‘Land of Lincoln’) gets the biggest claim of all because he lived there for most of his life.

Several posts ago, I mentioned going to Lincoln’s Birthplace National Monument in Kentucky. Today’s post will be about the next leg in the Lincoln journey – southern Indiana.

Being one of (at the time) only two National Historic Sites in Indiana, we of course had to go the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in the aptly named Lincoln City, Indiana.  After leaving the George Roger’s Clark Memorial in Vincennes, Indiana, we headed south east. About an hour and a half into the trip we stopped for gas and I realized that I’d left my wallet at the George Roger’s Clark Memorial when we purchased our Christmas ornament (our classic souvenir for trips). So…. luckily I had enough gas to get back to Vincennes to retrieve my wallet.

Ugh — adventures can be a challenge… and I have a bit of a habit losing my wallet on trips (I also accidentally threw my wallet away on the way to the Smokey Mountains once… that was fun). However, despite our setback, we headed back in the direction of Lincoln City and went to the National Park.

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View of the museum from the flagpole (pictured below)

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Closer view of museum

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Looking out from the museum

The site is beautiful! There is a small museum, but the majority of the sights are outdoors. There is a lovely hike you can take that shows you various milestones in Lincoln’s life — it’s called “The Trail of 12 Stones.”

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Tombstone of Lincoln’s mother

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The “ninth stone” on the trail – taken from where Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address

Along the trail is also a living history museum of a replica of how the Lincolns would have lived in the early 1800s.

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That’s a real sheep, folks!

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They wanted to come home with us, but we didn’t have enough room in the car.

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The living room/kitchen – Gabriel couldn’t get over that the ceilings were so low. “Wasn’t President Lincoln really tall, mom?”

The whole experience there was wonderful. I’d really love to back again. The rangers are the museum were amazing. I didn’t realize that there was a fee to get in (only $5) and they only took cash for the fees. However, they let us in anyway without seeming put out at all. When we got home a few days later, we wrote them a very nice card and included a donation because of their generosity to us.

The most wonderful part about the Junior Ranger program that I’ve mentioned several times in this blog is how excited the rangers are to interact with the kids. We have been to almost to twenty sites operated by the National Park Service and without exception, every single one of them have been eager to talk with Gabriel, show him around and talk about the history and science behind the various places.

At Lincoln Boyhood the two rangers actually argued over who would get to swear Gabriel in as a Junior Ranger! In the end the settled on letting the intern do it since she had never sworn in a Junior Ranger before. It was so cute to watch her get excited about it!

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Our time at Lincoln Boyhood was wonderful! I also recommend stopping by Santa Claus, Indiana which is very close to Lincoln City. In Santa Claus it is Christmas all year round! Even in the June heat!

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We stayed at the luxurious Motel 6 in Dale, Indiana (that’s sarcasm if you couldn’t tell). It wasn’t much to speak of, but it was cheap and clean and had a pool! That was all Gabriel cared about! 🙂

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Dale, Indiana is a very cute little town that has TONS of “mom and pop” restaurants.

Thanks for reading about our adventures in one of the Lands of Lincoln!

Exploring Around Home Before it was Cool

The way things are in the world right now, I think it is fairly common for people to be exploring around their own areas since distance travel is inadvisable or even impossible. However, that was not the reason my son and I traveled around to some of the National Park Service areas in Indiana way back in 2013.

At the time my son was mildly… no, let’s be straight with each other… he was completely obsessed with being a Junior Ranger – going to the different sites operated by the National Park Service and getting a badge. He became very discouraged when he found out that many of them were very far away, and it would take us quite some time to save up the money to go to Mesa Verde in Colorado. To him it was as easy as jumping in an airplane, but for a single teacher, the cost of two airline tickets, car rental, food and housing for a trip that (let’s face it) my son might not remember as an adult seemed a little silly.

Consequently we started a bit more locally.  I write about our first trip to St. Louis (here), and then we went on to Kentucky (here and here). After our big trip with my parents to the Grand Canyon (here), we decided to keep it local, and sure enough… there were three sites operated by the National Park Service in Indiana: Indiana Dunes National Shoreline (which is now officially a “park”), George Rogers Clark National Monument, and Lincoln’s Boyhood Home.

The Dunes are way up at Lake Michigan, but the other two parks, were relatively close (by midwestern standards), so we decided to do a quick long weekend there over fall break.

Our first stop was in Vincennes, Indiana to learn about George Rogers Clark!

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The memorial looking south (the Wabash River is just to the west out of frame)

The outside of the memorial is relatively simple, but very beautiful. It was constructed on the site of Fort Sackville, where Clark (at age 25) lead American forces to capture the fort and claim the area for the Americans.

Inside the memorial is a large statue of Clark in his military regalia.

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The statue stands in the center of a rotunda

Around the statue are seven paintings that depict the taking of the fort and the aftermath of that venture.

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Clark (white horse) leading militia men

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Clark offering an alliance with the Native Americans 

The history behind this second painting is quite interesting – the Native Americans had forged an alliance with the British military, but Clark went to several tribes without guns and severely out-manned to offer peace. The Native American chiefs were impressed with his bravery and accepted the white sash of peace (not the red sash of war).

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Clark and his men crossing the Wabash River (in the winter) to surprise the British

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The taking of the fort

Clark was a crafty leader. He had a small number helping him, but he told his men to fire as rapidly as possible and to make a lot of noise so it sounded like there were more of them. He also had sharp shooters fire at the cannon holes in the fort walls so that they could not fire the cannons.

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The surrender

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Winthrop Sargent reading the ordinance dividing the northwest territory into Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

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The last painting is of the founding of St. Louis – without Clark this exploration would not have been possible. 

Clark and his men helped the American cause – and that is why he is honored in Vincennes, Indiana.

A quote around the rotunda reads:

“Great things have been affected by a few men well conducted.” – George Rogers Clark in a letter to Patrick Henry

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Facing north while standing on the monument steps

Tune in later this week for more about our adventures in southern Indiana!