Friday, April 6, 2012

Illinois - Outside of Chicago

In my last post, we discussed Chicago, Illinois.  Despite there being a lot to do in Chicago and that city having the largest population in the state, that’s not all there is to do in Illinois.

Illinois claims to be the home of four US presidents: Abraham Lincoln (16th US President), Ulysses Grant (18th), Ronald Regan (40th), and Barrack Obama (44th).  You can go see various sites that show how they lived in Illinois prior to them moving into the White House in Washington, DC to serve as the US President.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, born in Kentucky, chose to make Illinois home and it was where he raised his family from 1837 until 1861.  Abraham Lincoln’s Presidential Museum in Springfield holds the original signed Emancipation Proclamation, a hand-written copy of his Gettysburg Address, and the evening gloves that he tucked in his pocket the night of his assassination.  His home in Springfield is the only house he ever owned.  A visitors’ center next door to the home tells the story of Lincoln’s time spent with his wife, children and friends in Springfield.  Also, in Springfield, is the Lincoln-Herndon Law Office where Lincoln launched his legal career.  It includes a visitors’ center, federal courtrooms and attorney offices.  In Petersburg, there is a village of timber shops and homes Lincoln worked at doing various jobs called Lincoln’s New Salem.  There you’ll find interpreters portraying pioneers and a theater in the park.  You can also find Abraham Lincoln’s tomb in Springfield.

Ulysses Grant
Ulysses Grant, born in Ohio, moved to Galena, Illinois in 1860.  He lived there till his presidency in 1869.  You can visit his home which was given to Grant by the townspeople of Galena in honor of his Civil War heroics upon his return in 1865.

Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico in 1911 and moved to Dixon for school and church.  You can visit both places to learn more about his childhood.

Barack Obama

Although born and raised in Hawaii, Barrack Obama did most of his work getting to the presidency in Illinois.  This is where he taught law, at the University of Chicago, met and married his wife, and they had two daughters here.  If looking for sites that Obama has visited, the state of Illinois has published their own Obama Trail to the Presidency that has all kinds of locations he’s been to.  

Not only did presidents journey through Illinois in their trail to the presidency, but other Americans journey through Illinois on two old historic highways.  As I stated in my last post, one of the original US highways, the famous Route 66 starts at the Buckingham Fountain in Chicago, and ends 2,448 miles later in Los Angeles, California.

Along Route 66 within Illinois, I found such cool places as the Route 66 Drive-In that has two drive-in screens playing at once, the town of Atlanta (in Illinois) that has a 19 ft tall statue of a man with a hot dog plus a Route 66 walking tour, and the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle with it’s own festival in Collinsville. 

The other major historic highway is the Lincoln Highway which was established in the early 1900s and was the country’s first coast-to-coast automobile highway.  It begins in New York City and ends in San Francisco (The Lincoln Highway Association, and The Illinois Lincoln Highway Association). 

Along both of these highways, you really come to find the true hometowns of the U.S. of A that might have been forgotten over the years due to the building of the major interstates.

Three other great places to check out in Illinois are:

1. Starved Rock State Park - bring your cameras so that you can capture the waterfalls and the bald eagles that nest in this area which is along the Illinois River.  There is also a cute lodge at the state park so you don’t have to stay far away.
Starved Rock State Park
2. John Deere FactoryJohn Deere has their world headquarters, a factory, and a pavilion museum in the town of Moline.  Also, an hour northeast of Moline is the John Deere Historic Site in the town of Grand Detour where you can see what it was like when John Deere worked in his blacksmith shop here and you can stroll through his home and the grounds.
John Deere Headquarters

3. Popeye and Friends Character Trailthe town of Chester is full of characters, Popeye character statues that is.

Other Great Informative Links:

These are just the places I’d like to go to in Illinois.  If you know of anywhere else in Illinois we should check out, please leave a comment below.  See you next week when we’ll explore what’s just round the corner in Indiana.

*All photos were found online*

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