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Story Ideas

The following information includes story ideas, interesting travel angles, extraordinary and unique facts, and a tall tale or two about Springfield, Illinois. You can use any of this information as a starting point for interesting story angles on Springfield. For more information on any of these and other stories about Springfield and the surrounding area, as well as the availability of quality color images to accompany any piece, please call the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-545-7300, Ext. 135 or contact Kim Rosendahl at kim.rosendahl@springfield.il.us.

Our Most Famous Citizen
The legend and spirit of Abraham Lincoln still lives in Springfield, Illinois. Arriving around 1830 at the age of 21, Lincoln lived in Springfield until he left to become the 16th President of the United States, in 1861. One of the most revered American presidents, Lincoln’s presence can be felt everywhere in Springfield.

Lincoln did not begin to grow a beard until after his presidential election.

Lincoln - The Boy, The Man, The Legend
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
The Great American Story As Never Told Before

Combining scholarship and showmanship, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum uses 21st century technology to immerse visitors in a world of gas lamps and hoop skirts – Lincoln's world.

Your experience begins in a rustic Indiana cabin. Next, travel with Lincoln down the Mississippi to New Orleans and confront the horrors of slavery as a family is torn apart on an auction block

Enter a modern-day television control room to see campaign commercials interpreting the complicated presidential election of 1860.

Step into the Blue Room of the White House to meet Mary Todd Lincoln at the dawn of four tragic years. Stand by the bedside of her dying son, Willie.

Listen to black servants gossiping in the White House kitchen about the possibility of Emancipation – a discussion that will continue in the Cabinet Room where the President and his advisors struggle to redefine the war's purpose.

In the Civil War in 4-Minutes, you can watch the movements of the armies North and South, synchronized to the mounting casualties on both sides.

Join the Lincoln's in their box at Ford's Theatre, and share the grief of thousands of ordinary Americans filing by Lincoln's casket in the Spring of 1865.

Lincoln's Eyes is a multi-screen, multi-layered special effects presentation that surrounds you with action on three sides.

Ghosts of the Library is a spectacular production that combines live actors and Holavision technology to send you on an exciting journey of discovery into the heart of the Presidential Library archives.

Mrs. Lincoln's Attic lets kids of all ages dress up, measure up, and play the games that diverted Tad and Willie Lincoln. There's even a giant dollhouse recreating the Lincoln's own Springfield home.

In the Treasures Gallery, you can see priceless artifacts, including one of five existing copies of The Gettysburg Address in Lincoln's own hand.

And, finally, the Illinois Gallery is home to a rich menu of world-class changing exhibits on American history and the colorful panorama of Illinois.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

Housing the world's largest collection of Abraham Lincoln material, the Presidential library is home to more than 47,000 treasures including manuscripts, prints and photographs, paintings and sculptures, artifacts, books and pamphlets, broadsides and campaign material. The manuscript collection alone contains nearly 1,500 original documents written by Mr. Lincoln.

The Lincoln National Heritage Trail
While the official Lincoln National Heritage area spans 42 counties throughout Illinois, many of the finest Lincoln historic sites can be found in Springfield. Those sites include:

Lincoln Home National Historic Site
A four-block cobblestone neighborhood where Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln lived for 17 years. The Lincoln home, the only home the Lincolns ever owned, was so meticulously restored in 1988, you can almost hear the rambunctious sounds of their young sons echo down the halls. The Lincoln’s purchased the home for $1,200.00 in 1844.

Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices
Abraham Lincoln practiced law here for nearly a decade beginning about 1843. The historic site is the only surviving structure in which Lincoln maintained working law offices, he tried cases in the building’s Federal court located below his office.

Old State Capitol
Completed in 1863 at a cost of $260,000, it was here that Lincoln gave his famous “House Divided” speech.

The Old State Capitol was the center of Illinois government from 1839 to 1876 and is considered among the most important 19th century public buildings in the United States. After his assassination, President Lincoln’s body lay in state in the second–floor House of Representatives.

Lincoln Tomb
Abraham Lincoln, his wife Mary and three of their four sons rest in the Tomb at this 320-acre cemetery. Standing 117 feet tall, the exterior of the Tomb is constructed of dressed granite. Every Tuesday evening from June through August the 114th Reactivated Civil War Infantry Unit can be found at the tomb performing a flag retreat ceremony.

Other Lincoln Attractions:
Lincoln Ledger
Lincoln Pew

Springfield’s Believe It Or Not

  • The fastest mile dirt track in the nation can be found in Springfield at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
  • Springfield boasts the 3rd largest carillon in the world.
  • One of the world's largest Ice Age Mastodon skeletons resides at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield.
  • Springfield is home to one of the nation's very first drive-up window restaurants, built in 1926 and still operating.
  • Springfield is the “Chilli Capital of the World,” where chilli is always spelled with a double “l”.
  • Abraham Lincoln used the inside of his famous stovepipe hat to store papers. He even once apologized for losing a letter when he traded his old hat in for a new one.

Only In Springfield
Health conscious beware, only in Springfield will you find the “horseshoe sandwich,” created in 1928 at the old Leland Hotel. Named for the shape of the ham once used to top this open-faced sandwich, it features a secret cheddar cheese sauce lavishly poured over a meat of your choice (hamburger and turkey are popular) and topped with a generous pile of french fries, which represent the nails of the horseshoe.

On display in the Treasures Gallery at the A. Lincoln Presidential Museum rests the only original copy of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address that contains the words "under God." Written in Lincoln's own handwriting, the manuscript was purchased in 1944 by Illinois schoolchildren who donated their pennies to buy this special gift for the State.

A Bellyful of Route 66 Food Dished Up in Springfield
If you're searching for a taste of the old Route 66, Springfield can dish up a bellyful of flavors that originated right here. From the original hotdog on a stick (the Cozy Dog) to the world's first and oldest drive-up window restaurant (the Maid-Rite) to a cheese-smothered, French fry-laden sandwich (the Horseshoe) that can only be eaten with a fork. These are some of Springfield's best-loved foods, and they're all served with a side order of great stories.

King of the Mother Road
Stop by Bill Shea's Route 66 Gas Station Museum, sit down on the back seat of an old Chevy and let Bill take you back to a delightful place in time. Bill has spent more than 50 years of his life working and living along Route 66. His collection of gas station memorabilia and Route 66 collectibles are among the fines. You'll find oilcans, calendars, signs, glass cabinets, and a 15-cent-a-pack cigarette machine. There's old cash registers, an 80-year-old peanut dispenser, an oil company pump jack, restored gas pumps…and even Bill's original Texaco uniform…along with his priceless sense of humor. Bill is one of Illinois' best-known, and most loved, Route 66 icons.

Interesting People
Nationally known folk artist George Colin and his wife Winny, can be found most days wandering around the yard of their neighboring Salisbury home. Stop in for a chat and a walk through of George’s studio. Collectors of Colin’s unique folk art include Oprah Winfrey, former Illinois’ Governor Jim Edgar and former President George Bush.

Route 66 Hall of Fame member, Bill Shea, can be found most days spinning a tale or two about the “Mother Road” at his cozy shop Shea’s Truck Covers. An original Texaco station owner, Bill’s shop is a virtual shrine to Route 66 and was featured in a PBS special.