The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. may be better known, but it isn’t the first. Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the First Lincoln Memorial in Hodgenville, Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, on Lincoln’s birthday in 1909, and William Howard Taft dedicated the completed memorial in November 1911, a few years before construction of the Washington D.C. memorial began.
The Hodgenville memorial, in the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park, about 60 miles south of Louisville, begins with an orientation film in the visitor’s center. Browse the exhibits, including a Bible known to have belonged to the Lincoln family and a diorama depicting what the inside of a one room cabin at the time of Lincoln’s birth would have looked like.
From the visitor’s center walk to the Lincoln Memorial and climb the 56 stairs to the building, one for every year of Lincoln’s life. More symbolism lies in the building itself, with 16 windows and 16 rosettes in the ceiling symbolizing Lincoln as the 16th president. An old cabin from the area, symbolizing the one in which Lincoln would have lived, is inside the memorial building. The fencing that surrounds the cabin has 16 posts.
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A short distance from the memorial building see Sinking Spring, the spring from which the Lincolns drew their water and from which the farm, Sinking Spring Farm, was named.
A few miles up the road see the site of Lincoln’s Boyhood Home at Knob Creek, where the Lincolns moved when Abe was two years old. Lincoln’s first recollections of life were at Knob Creek. Here you can hike a trail down to the creek or to the top of an adjacent knob for a view of the surrounding area.
The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park is located at 2995 Lincoln Park Road, Hodgenville, Kentucky. Check the web site for further details.
Disclosure: My visit to the Abraham Lincoln National Historic Park was hosted by the Kentucky Department of Tourism. My admission was complimentary, but all opinions in this article are my own.
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