Encircle Illinois

Encircle Illinois: When driving through the “Land of Lincoln,” you will soon realize why Illinois is proud of this nickname and its famous native son, Abraham Lincoln. You will lean lots about the 16th president’s legacy in Bloomington, Danville and especially his home town of Springfield.

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1 Celebration Belle Riverboat in Moline, Illinois

Moline, Illinois, is one of the Quad Cities sharing the banks of the Mississippi River. The city of 43,000 people has worked hard to create a vibrant downtown. This delightful environment features restaurants, bars, entertainment, shops and frequent community events. Moline is home to John Deere & Company. Children love crawling on the giant agricultural equipment at the John Deere Commons and Pavilion. Adults favor taking a cruise on a riverboat like the Celebration Belle.

2501 River Dr, Moline, IL 61265

2 City of Mills Mural by William Gustafson in Moline, Illinois

This mural by William Gustafson is called “City of Mills.” The artwork celebrates the arrival of John Deere’s 11 year old blacksmith shop from Grand Detour to Moline in 1846. John Deere and John Gould are shown here in front of their Plough Factory just after Robert Tate became a partner. Deere & Company is still headquartered in Moline. They are one of the top 100 largest U.S. companies and employ nearly 56,000 people worldwide.

1509 3rd Avenue A, Moline, IL 61265

3 McLean County Museum of History in Bloomington, Illinois

The McLean County Museum of History in Bloomington, Illinois, is housed in this American Renaissance style building. The former courthouse was built in 1903. The museum contains over 18,000 items. The four galleries focus on the people, politics, work and farming of McLean County’s history. Among the displays are details of the political and legal activities of Abraham Lincoln. The interior is as charming as the exhibits are educational. This museum is well worth a walk through.

200 N Main St, Bloomington, IL 61701

4 Moses Montefiore Temple in Bloomington, Illinois

The Moses Montefiore Temple in Bloomington, Illinois, dates back to 1882. Initially, the congregation attended services in a shoe store. Their first temple was built in 1889. This second one, constructed in 1959, now serves 110 families. The namesake is Moses Montefiore. He was a Jewish Englishman. After a successful business career, he became a philanthropist and humanitarian by dedicating his life and wealth to distressed Jews in Europe and other oppressed countries. Montefiore also created residential settlements in Jerusalem and Palestine plus donated money for Jewish education, industry and health. He died at the age of 100 in 1885, three years after this congregation was formed.

315 N Prairie St, Bloomington, IL 61701

5 Grain Silos and Library in McLean, Illinois

In the heart of Illinois is McLean. The town of 830 people resembles so many others in the Midwest with its grain elevators near the railroad tracks, a small aged library and bank plus a row of struggling shops facing a deserted town square.

1917 NE Spencer St, McLean, IL 61754

6 Abraham Lincoln’s Burial Room Tomb in Springfield, Illinois

This marble sarcophagus is part of the Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. Outside is a massive monument with bronze sculptures and a 117 foot obelisk. Inside is a beautiful rotunda with a replica of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The interior also includes symbolism of previous presidents plus the 36 states at the time of his death in 1865. An ornate corridor leads to the burial room. The chamber is decorated with eight Lincoln sculptures plus excerpts from his famous speeches. Lincoln rested in this cenotaph for two years. After a foiled attempt to steal his body, the former president was moved to a vault beneath the floor.

1500 Monument Ave, Springfield, IL 62702

7 Abe Lincoln Sitting on Bench in Front of Springfield Union Station in Springfield, Illinois

If there was a 19th century park bench in Springfield, Illinois, chances are good Abe Lincoln sat in it while a resident from 1884 until he became the 16th president in 1861. This life-size, bronze statue of Abe sitting on a hardwood bench and holding his 1865 second inaugural speech was created by Colorado sculptor Mark Lundeen. It was added to Union Square Park in 2006. The Union Station in the background was built in 1898. The historic rail terminal is now part of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

500 E Madison St, Springfield, IL 62701

8 Abraham Lincoln’s Home in Springfield, Illinois

Twelve buildings in a four block area of Springfield, Illinois, appear as they did when Abraham Lincoln bought this house for $1,200 with Mary Todd in 1844. Lincoln lived here until he became the 16th president in 1861. During his residency, he was a “prairie” lawyer, a Whig representative in the Illinois House, a member of the US House of Representatives, a founder of the Republican Party, a staunch abolitionist, a debater with Senator Stephen Douglas over slavery and a newspaper publisher. He was also the father of four boys. One of them died from tuberculosis in this home.

413 S 8th St, Springfield, IL 62701

9 Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield, Illinois

The “Land of Lincoln” state capitol is in Springfield, Illinois. It should be called “The Town of Lincoln” because Abe’s home, law practice, early political career, presidential museum and tomb are in Springfield. The town’s tallest building is the Greek Revival, 361 foot capitol with its shining zinc dome. After 20 years of construction that exceeded the budget by 20 times, the capitol opened in 1853. It remains the tallest U. S. capitol that is not a skyscraper. Illinois became the 21st state on December 3, 1818.

401 S 2nd St, Springfield, IL 62701

10 Illinois State Capitol Rotunda Dome in Springfield, Illinois

While looking up from the rotunda at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, you wish you had a closer look at the plaster friezes encircling the dome. It features intricate bas-relief artwork. The panels are painted a bronze hue and depict historical moments such as when Lincoln and Douglas debated slavery in 1858. Flanking the dome are four statues pointing towards elaborate stained glass. The oculus is a state seal from 1839-1867. Interestingly, it is rumored the police department controlled a beacon on top of the dome to summon their officers prior to the invention of car radios.

401 S 2nd St, Springfield, IL 62701

11 Abe Lincoln Slept Here at William Fithian Home in Danville, Illinois

Dr. William Fithian was a 19th century physician. He frequently hosted his friend, Abraham Lincoln, at his home in Danville, Illinois. This second floor bedroom remains virtually the same as it was in 1858. On September 21 of that year, Lincoln gave a U.S. Senate campaign speech from this room’s balcony window and then slept in this canopy bed. The women who provide tours of this home and the Vermillion County Museum next door are passionate, knowledgeable and welcoming.

116 N Gilbert St, Danville, IL 61832