Museum of the Grand Prairie: Lincoln and Life in Central Illinois

Abraham Lincoln is most often associated with Springfield, but he spent time in nine counties throughout Central Illinois as he traveled the 8th Judicial Circuit practicing law.  The Museum of the Grand Prairie in Mahomet captures Lincoln’s travels through the area, as well as life on the prairie in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Sit in a wagon much the same as Lincoln did.  The video in front of you gives the illusion that you are riding through the prairie.


Learn humorous stories about Lincoln, like the time he hid the meal gong from the American House proprietor because it would wake up Lincoln and the other lawyers who stayed there.

When Lincoln was having his photograph taken, he was wearing his travel clothes, which were inappropriate for a formal photograph.  The photographer, Samuel Alschuler, gave Lincoln his jacket to wear.  The sleeves came almost up to the elbows of tall Lincoln.


See a replica of the Goose Pond Church where Lincoln spoke to a packed house, campaigning for John C. Fremont, the first Republican Party presidential nominee.


Other exhibits in the museum include artifacts like the Mitchell Wagon, used to cart corn to the local elevator.


The Chesebro Blacksmith shop that stood untouched from the 1930s until 1993 in Saunemin, Illinois, has been partially reconstructed with the contents in the exact place as they were originally.


Learn about typical families who lived in the area.  This intricate gate was at the home of the local blacksmith.


A temporary exhibit titled, “Home Grown: Gardening Yesterday and Today,” opened in March, begins with the cultivation ways of Native Americans, moves to 19th century orchards and pollinators, into the mid-20th century Victory Gardens and canning, and onto sustainable gardening techniques of today.


The next time you’re traveling to or through Champaign County, make a little jog to visit the delightful Museum of the Grand Prairie.  The museum is located at 950 N Lombard, Mahomet, Illinois, in the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve.  Check the web site for hours and directions.  Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

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