Tag Archives: National Parks

Springfield, Illinois (Part of Travel Goal #4)

Front this railroad station Abraham Lincoln gave his last speech to Springfield.

We collect National Park cancellation stamps when we travel within the USA. On the way out from Springfield, Ilinois Denise asked if I could get a quick stamp from the old railway station in Springfield.

I went to the railroad station and the door was closed but the hours on the door said they were open and so was the door so I let myself in. Once inside the historic depot I noticed no one was there so I walked briefly around the depot looking for the stamp and found it at the ticket booth. It was while I was getting the stamp ready I hear this voice…

“Hello”, said the voice.

“Hello,” I replied. Must be a park ranger I thought.

“How are you doing?”

“Good, I just came to get a stamp and then I will be on my way”

“I am going to miss you dearly.”

Wow, this place must not get many visitors.

“I am now on my way to Washington DC.”

What is this guy talking about?! I went to the next room from where I heard the voice. It was at that point that I came face to face with a video projection of an actor portraying Abraham Lincoln, giving Springfield a farewell speech from the station (sadly he never came back). And that is my story on how I had a conversation with Lincoln. I am happy to say Lincoln was a kind host and I was able to get my stamp and continue on my way.

Abraham Lincoln is an interesting character in history because he is so well loved that he is claimed by so many places. He was born in Hodgenville, KY in a simple log cabin, but as an adult he clearly made Springfield, Illinois his hometown.

Lincoln’s home is a modest home but it is yellow, which in the 1800’s was a very expensive color.

In 1839, Springfield had become the new capital of Illinois. In 1842 Springfield was a growing city and was a perfect setting for Lincoln to set up a law practice. Him and Mary were not poor but they did not have a lot of money either. The story goes that when Lincoln arrived he asked the local shopkeeper how much bed sheets were and when he was told they were $17 he had to buy them on credit from his profits as lawyer.

Lincoln’s practice went well and he was soon able to pay off his debit and in 1843 for $1,500 he was able buy a house and a small plot of land. Lincoln’s home started out modest and as his prestidge grew so did the house. Mary Todd Lincoln employed help but she really liked to cook so she had a very nice stove (even though the kitchen itself was small). The highlight of the house was seeing Lincoln’s desk. I can only imagine all the idea he had there.

Unfortunately, Abraham Lincoln never made it back to Springfield alive. After being assassinated, there was a very solemn funeral train back to Springfield in which Lincoln was laid in state at the capitol building and then at the Oak Ridge cemetery in a huge memorial tomb.

The gold inside Lincoln’s tomb was donated by California.

The Lincoln tomb is an impressive structure that features on the outside scenes from the civil war and on the inside impressive amounts of granite and marble. In the first room you will find the model sculpture that is featured at the Lincoln Monument in Washington DC. The dome in the first room is made of palladium which is supposedly one of the more durable metals on the planet. In the burial chamber you will find a big tombstone, which 10 ft. under is buried Abraham Lincoln. They had to bury Abraham Lincoln under 10 ft. of concrete to prevent grave robbers. Also in the burial chambers is the crypts of Mary Todd Lincoln, and three of Lincoln’s four sons, Edward, Willie, and Tad. There is a memorial to the eldest, Robert Todd Lincoln, who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, which is interesting because if you look close they made a mistake on his birth year and had to correct it (he was born in 1843).  If the tomb looks bigger than it should be it is. It was meant to be a tomb big enough for all of the Lincoln family, but most of the Lincoln family chose to be buried elsewhere so they wouldn’t be overshadowed by President Lincoln’s memory.

The trip to Springfield, Illinois was part of my travel goals. To see all my goals please visit http://goaltravels.com/about/ 

Lincoln’s home is a modest home but it is yellow, which in the 1800’s was a very expensive color.
Lincoln’s bed is modest, it is also noticeable that he had a separate room from his wife.
Lincoln’s desk. I also thought the carpet was very decorative.
Mary’s stove.
Lincoln is eternally in front of the capital building.
I thought it funny that the “cornerstone” was not actually attached to the building.
Inside the capitol.
Springfield dome.
The Springfield Capitol was built with modest funds, which meant they didn’t have money for fancy wood or stone, so they painted everything to make it look fancy.
Front this railroad station Abraham Lincoln gave his last speech to Springfield.
One of the local foods I found was Cracklins, fried chicken skin. It was OK, but I prefer pork grinds.
The gold inside Lincoln’s tomb was donated by California.
If you look close you can see they changed the year from 44 to 43, even though Robert Todd Lincoln was not buried in Springfield.
Outside the Lincoln tomb it shows scenes from the civil war.
There is a tradition that you are supposed to touch Lincoln’s nose. Not sure why, but it is really shiny from all the touching.
Tried White Castle, the oldest fast food restaurant in the USA. Only available in the east coast.
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#11 Visit the Statue of Liberty

It doesn't matter at what angle you view the statue, it always inspires.
It doesn’t matter at what angle you view the statue, it always inspires.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

-Emma Lazarus

Denise in front of Castle Clinton
Denise in front of Castle Clinton

We were anxious the morning we were to go and visit the Statue of Liberty. We got to Battery Park very early, too early. Arriving at Clinton Castle Fort (which is also a national monument) we found the line where we needed to confirm our reservation tickets, but we told that we could not get in the line until 30 minutes prior to our start time. I wasn’t sure why this was, when we finally did get to the line we found out that your start time doesn’t really matter. The ferrys just constantly run and when you get to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island you are allowed to stay on each island as long as you want.

 

The closest metro stop the Statue of Liberty is Staten Island Ferry.
The closest metro stop the Statue of Liberty is Staten Island Ferry.
An early morning view of the Statue of Liberty as seen from Battery park.
An early morning view of the Statue of Liberty as seen from Battery park.
The sea glass carousel at Battery Park is definitely different than other carousels I have seen.
The sea glass carousel at Battery Park is definitely different than other carousels I have seen.
This statue is dedicated to the immigrants who arrived at Battery Park.
This statue is dedicated to the immigrants who arrived at Battery Park.
AJ boards the ferry after passing security.
AJ boards the ferry after passing security.
AJ in front of Battery Park that used to protect New York.
AJ in front of Battery Park that used to protect New York.
On the way to the statue you can see the one world trade center.
On the way to the statue you can see the one world trade center.
This building used to be the immigration building for non-immigrants.
This building used to be the immigration building for non-immigrants.
Denise in front of Castle Clinton
Denise in front of Castle Clinton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As soon as we got to Liberty Island we headed straight for the crown. You are not allowed to bring anything with you into the statue except a camera and one bottle of water. They have lockers you can rent for $5.00 at the gift store at the base of the statue.

Despite having gone through intense security before getting on the boat, to go to the statue you have to pass through security again. Inside the base of the statue, the first thing you see is the old torch, which is nice because from inside the statue, even at the crown, it is hard to see the torch. Not to mention the passageway up to the torch has been closed to visitors since 1916 when German spies blew up some ammunition and the shrapnel got lodged in the torch in what is now known as the “Black Tom” incident.

Going inside the base you can see the original torch.
Going inside the base you can see the original torch.
A view from the crown up to the torch.
A view from the crown up to the torch.
The ladder goes up to the torch, but it is closed off to visitors.
The ladder goes up to the torch, but it is closed off to visitors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After climbing a lot of steps you get to the pedestal. The pedestal viewing area is very windy and cramped. There are a lot of people and it can sometimes be hard to get past them. From the pedestal you can get a good view of the base of the statue and see the old walls of what used to be Fort Wood, which was what was on the island before the statue.

As Denise demonstrates there is not much passing room at the pedestal.
As Denise demonstrates there is not much passing room at the pedestal.
From the pedestal you can see the outline of what was Fort Wood.
From the pedestal you can see the outline of what was Fort Wood.
This archway is leftover from Fort Wood.
This archway is leftover from Fort Wood.

Continuing upward in a very narrow (only one person can go at a time) spiral staircase, you get to the crown. There is very limited space at the top. When we went up there were two rangers keeping a watch on the statue and stairs. They were very informative and told us an interesting story about the real intentions of the statue.

Here is a video:

 

The beginning of the stairs up to the crown.
The beginning of the stairs up to the crown.
As you can see the stairs are very curvy, but every so often there are areas to stop and rest.
As you can see the stairs are very curvy, but every so often there are areas to stop and rest.
This shot kind of shows how many steps to the top.
This shot kind of shows how many steps to the top.
The port holes at the crown are not very big.
The port holes at the crown are not very big.
This is a side of the statue's face that not many see.
This is a side of the statue’s face that not many see.
It took some effort but the Pedrozas made it to the crown. No elevators inside.
It took some effort but the Pedrozas made it to the crown. No elevators inside.
AJ got a souvenir coin than is the thickness of two pennies, just like the statue.
AJ got a souvenir coin than is the thickness of two pennies, just like the statue.

Going back down we got our backpacks once again out of the lockers. There are two gift stores at the island. The one at the base of the statue of liberty is very crowded, compared with the store at the landing with the food court, that has most of the same stuff (Denise said they had different postcards) and is less crowded.

AJ always enjoys doing the Junior Ranger program every time we go to a national park. It is a free activity and you get a cool badge for your adventure. The junior ranger program is much shorter than other junior ranger programs. We completed it rather quickly with the audio tour that is included with all tickets. The audio tour looks like a phone receiver with a lanyard and at different points you put in a number and the virtual guide explains what you are looking at. At the end of junior ranger program we got to meet ranger Louie, which was cool. He is one of three rangers that go up to the torch to make sure it is always lit (except for that one day, but that is another story).

statajonetower statjuniorrangeroath statrangerlouie

 

 

 

 

 

From Liberty Island the ferries run every 30 minutes to both New York and Ellis Island.

These are the bolts that keep the statue attached to the pedestal.
The ferries run every 30 minutes.
Denise and John arriving to Liberty Island.
AJ poses in front of the statue.
My favorite view was from the base upward.

 

This was #11 on my all time goals list. For the rest of the list please go to goaltravels.com