Illinois Historical Sites

A mini tour of Illinois with information on various historical sites and attractions for tourists in the state. Focusing on the contributions of Abraham Lincoln.

If you are seeking historic inspiration on your next trip, consider exploring Illinois. American History comes alive in the great state!

Let's take a circular tour around the state and discover its historical wonders. Our tour begins in Springfield, the birthplace of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. As a matter of fact the Springfield became the capital of Illinois due in part by Lincoln's efforts.

Springfield is the site of the plain wood-frame house, built in 1839; the Lincoln family lived in for seventeen years. Mary Todd Lincoln, the Presidents wife, decorated the home. Inside tourist are able to view the home with several interesting family pieces on display.

Included within this four-block historic district are several buildings associated with President Lincoln. You can pay a visit to the Old State Capital where Lincoln gave his famous "House Divided" speech so many years ago. Along the way, you will want to take a glance at the restored offices of Lincoln's law practice and one of the city's most popular attractions, "Lincoln's Tomb."

Our tour continues some twenty miles northwest of Springfield to New Salem. At the age of nineteen, young Abe settled in this area. Within six years he became a lawyer and was well on his way to becoming a statesmen. The visitor center at the New Salem State Historic Site, contains exhibits on the history of Lincoln's early days as a settler. Costumed interpreters recreating roles of the era enchant visitors. The site offers horse-drawn wagon rides as well as summer riverboat rides down the Sagamon River. Historical demonstrations and self-guided tours are also available.

These picturesque site tours include visiting ten restored New Salem cabins built in the early 1800's, the town blacksmith shop, cooper shop, several stores, a schoolhouse, a tavern and a few offices. Tourists enjoy viewing the Rutledge-Camron saw and Gristmill at New Salem. This replica was reconstructed in 1940 in its original location to add authenticity.

Only two miles from New Salem out tour leads us to the historic town of Petersburg. Nearly half of this cities public buildings and majestic homes are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This historic district's 56 homes, buildings and other tourist attractions range from a log cabin to a grand Italian style home.

Our next stop is the Dickson Mounds Museum, just east of Lewistown. This site of 162 acres of the National Heritage Site, is the discovery zone of several pre-historic Indian burial mounds. Landowner and Amateur archeologist, D.F. Dickson, discovered the mounds. The museum itself contains artifacts, which tell the story of the lives of the Illinois River Valley ancestors. These artifacts include, weapons, pottery, and tools found on the site. Outside the museum tourists take in the 5 prehistoric American Indian villages, a Middle Woodland mound burial site and 10-mound cemetery. All of which have been dated as over 1,000 years old. Dickson Mounds offer guided tours, workshops, festivals and excavating exhibits.

On to Peoria to view the John C. Flannagan House. This attraction honestly boasts of being the oldest home built in the oldest settlement in Illinois. The home, built in 1837 is furnished with pre-Civil War and 19th century objects. Even the wallpaper, curtains and bedding are from this historical period. The home and all its contents are well preserved by the Peoria Historical Society.

The David Davis Mansion State Historic Site, located southeast of Peoria to Bloomington, is where we head next. Here tourists are awestruck by this breathtaking 20-room, yellow brick mansion. The walls are stencil-painted in design and the furnishings are admirable. It includes 7 marble fireplaces, one of, which is made of glistening white Carrara marble. This beautiful Victorian was designed by an Italian architect and built in 1872 by David Davis. Davis was the 8th Circuit Court judge and friend of Abraham Lincoln. Davis was partially responsible for securing Lincoln's nomination of the Republican Party for President. His efforts were later rewarded as President Lincoln appointed Davis to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Our tour now leads us to Lincoln, Illinois. This area named after the President, who is said to have christened the town with a bit of watermelon juice. This site is the home of the Lincoln College Museum. The museum stores the largest collection of Lincoln memorabilia in the World. On display are over 2,000 volumes, manuscripts and other interesting items. A tour of the Postville Courthouse in Lincoln brings alive the legal system of 1840 to 1848.

Our journey's end is in Decatur, due east of Springfield where we first began. The homes of Decatur tell the story of Illinois from Civil War days to the Great Depression. Visitors come to take one of several walking tours at this 80-acre historical site. The Birks Museum houses over 1,000 items found in these homes throughout the centuries. Some pieces dating back to the 15th century. Nearby at the Macon County Historical Museum Complex tourist spend time investigating a recreated prairie village. The village contains an 1830 courthouse, an 1860 log cabin, and a working blacksmith shop from 1900. Our last stop is the more than 1,300-acre site known as Rock Springs Center for Environmental Discovery. Preserved for your hiking pleasure is an 1860's prairie farm. Fishing and skiing are also available.

As you can see, Illinois is more than just one of America's 50 states. It is a part of American History that we all can view, tour and learn more about in an enjoyable way.

© High Speed Ventures 2011