Springfield, IL: Part I – Overview

21 10 2009

On Friday, Oct. 9 my wife, son, and I flew into St. Louis and drove the 105 miles or so to Springfield, Il.  They treated me to the trip for my birthday coming up at the end of November.  It’s one of those milestone birthdays – we usually celebrate on a much smaller scale.  We got in kind of late, and stayed Friday night out by the power plant, but not so bright and early Saturday morning we hit the road for downtown Springfield.  We had a room at the Hilton, just a couple of blocks from, well, just about everything as far as Lincoln is concerned.  You can’t miss the Hilton, which is by far the tallest building in town (we stayed on the 27th floor).  Click on the thumbs for larger images.


Springfield is pretty much like just about every state capital I’ve ever been in.  Other than Lincoln, not much going on in town on the weekend.  We parked in a garage and set off exploring (with The Abraham Lincoln Observer Mike Keinzler’s notes in hand), walking about two blocks to the site of the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices which, we were to learn, were not exactly…well, more on that later.  We took a few photos there of the sculpture of the Lincoln family…

DSCN0854 DSCN0937

…and of the Old Capitol that sits right across the street (Adams Ave., which has been closed off into a sort of mall).


At this point we decided to walk another couple of blocks to the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and a tour of, well, Lincoln’s home.


Then it was back to the law offices, after a quick stop in the Tinsley Dry Goods store to enquire about the evening’s ghost tour.  It was already unseasonably cold and was only going to get colder, so we adopted a wait and see attitude.  Tinsley Dry Goods is one of those artsy/crafty type places, which means the wife browsed a little longer than was expected.

Right next to Tinsley’s are the Law Offices, and we entered just in time for the tour.  Afterwards, we strolled through the Capitol, a beautifully preserved building.

These stops pretty much made up the whole day.  We went back and checked into the hotel, deciding to just get dinner at Bennigan’s there in the hotel.  On the way, we stopped into a shop and saw this guy:


We ate, watched some football, and around 6:30, while we were still in the restaurant, all the power within about a 2 mile radius of the capitol building went out.  Remember, all our stuff is on the 27th floor.  There were also two wedding receptions under way in the hotel.  After about half an hour of this chaos, we jumped in the car and headed for Hooters to watch more football, opting not to freeze to death on a ghost tour.

Well, eventually the power came back on in town, so we came back to the hotel and turned in.  Sunday morning after breakfast, we walked another few blocks to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  Well, the Museum anyway – due to state budget constraints, the Library is closed on weekends.  We spent about 4 hours in the Museum, including of course the gift shop.  Here’s the library and museum – the buff colored buildings running diagonally lower left (library) to mid-right center (museum) – from our room:


After the museum, we walked through the Springfield Visitor Center, housed in an old,though not Lincoln old, train station (see it in the image above, the reddish building in the mid-upper left).  Then it was a quick walk back to the car and a pretty short drive to Oak Hill Cemetery where the Lincoln Tomb was…closed due to state budget constraints.  Then we spent some time in the little gift shop that’s been sitting at the entrance to the cemetery for about 70 years, and afterwards went to a seafood house for dinner.


On Monday morning before driving back to St. Louis for our 3:00 PM flight home, I dropped the wife off at the ALPLM gift shop and the boy and I drove over to the current capitol building to check out the statuary there. 


Then we picked up the wife, drove back to St. Louis, made a quick (very quick) stop at the arch – for some odd reason the NPS is under the impression that the Lewis & Clark expedition began in St. Louis, when we all know it started in Pittsburgh – and arrived at the airport with about 15 minutes to spare.


OK, don’t worry (or do worry, depending on what you think of my writing and photography).  I have a lot of pictures and comments on the sites we visited and the sights we saw, and will post them here as I get to them.  Stay tuned.

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

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Haunted Ben Lomond

21 10 2009

Do Abraham Lincoln, black Confederates, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Michael Jackson, Zombies, Bigfoot, Chupacabra, all the Gettysburg Ghosts, Marilyn Monroe, Jim Morrison, John Lennon and George Harrison haunt historic Ben Lomond?  Will Balloon Boy join them 80 or so years from now?

Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond

Taken from this site:

Haunted Ben Lomond Tours, Saturday, Oct. 24, tours at 7, 8, 9 and 10 p.m. Ben Lomond Historic Site, at 10321 Sudley Manor Drive, Manassas is opening its doors for tours of the house that serves as a Confederate hospital after the battle of First Manassas in 1981 [ooops!]. Come hear about ghosts that some believe haunt the house, outbuildings and garden. The cost is $5 a person and reservations are recommended. Call 703-367-7872. Tours may not be suitable for children under 12.

And from this site:

Visit a haunted Civil War hospital and learn about ghosts that may still wander the ca.1830 Ben Lomond farm house. Tours offered every half hour. Call 703-367-7872 for information.

Sorry for the intro – I’m just testing a theory based on some stuff my friend Craig Swain told me about attracting visitors.  Shameless but fun nonetheless.  (UPDATE: I got it all wrong, and what Craig told me had nothing to do with what I was doing here.  Figures I’d screw that up).

Find some real history on Ben Lomond here.  Photo from this site.

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