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Civil War Remembered at Lincoln's Home

April 22, 2011

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – It was 150 years ago that the Civil War began, and families in Illinois can mark the anniversary by visiting a place of great historic significance: Abraham Lincoln's home in Springfield. It is the only home ever owned by Lincoln, and also the only national park site in Illinois.

Every month this year, the Lincoln Home is hosting special events to bring Civil War era history to life. Lynn McClure, senior Midwest director of the National Parks Conservation Association, says it should prompt more visitors to the area, which also benefits the local economy.

"There are a little over 350,000 visitors a year, and that site, with a couple of the other Lincoln sites in Springfield, generates about $23 million in economic benefits."

Getting 'that close' to some of the actual items that Lincoln and his family used is especially interesting when explained by the historians, says McClure. She remembers the story one historian told her of how Lincoln's sons would get into trouble.

"They used to take this big washtub and ride it down the stairs, and they did this a couple of times when their parents had parties. It's really kind-of exciting to get a glimpse into the personal lives of our presidents."

McClure points out that a visit is something any Illinois family can afford – because it's free.

"You can wander around, and you can even go through Lincoln's home and listen to a ranger at no charge, which is wonderful because it means it's more accessible to more people to learn about our history."

To find out about events at the Lincoln Home, look online at www.nps.gov/liho/index.htm.

Walking through the same rooms where the Lincoln family ate, entertained, and even gave birth to their children, as well as listening to historians' stories of everyday life, makes history real for people of all ages, says McClure.

She notes the National Park Service took a $100 million hit during the last round of federal budget cuts, but is glad that Lincoln's history continues to be preserved for the people of Illinois.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL