Thursday, May 16, 2013

Walking in Lincoln's "boyhood" shoes

**Disclosure: My family did receive complimentary admission to the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in order to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

Last weekend, we spent a little time walking through the same woods Abraham Lincoln did as a boy. On a recent adventure to Santa Claus, Indiana, we explored the nearby Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City, Indiana. Kids often encounter stories of Lincoln as a man. However, the Memorial brings his childhood alive. My daughter lit up as she learned about a time when Lincoln was a child just like she is. She especially was excited to learn that one of his favorite books as a child was about George Washington--one of her other favorite Presidents! (In fact, we just call him "George" in our house.)

The Visitor's Center is a fitting memorial to Lincoln in itself. The exterior sports impressive depictions sculpted from stone. Inside, you will find an exhibit on Lincoln's time in Indiana. The exhibit is informative but short enough that children will not get distracted. There is an interactive portion displaying typical items you would find in a pioneer cabin. A short video chronicles Lincoln's life in Indiana  complete with some anecdotes that kids will remember. (Of course, my daughter ended up remembering everyone who died and how they died. Why does she hone in on these things?)

After the video, my daughter was quite literally able to "fill" Lincoln's shoes. After exiting the theater, we noticed a pair of "Lincoln-sized" shoes that kids can try on. Talk about giving kids perspective!



Once we finished exploring the Visitor's Center, we headed on our walk to Lincoln's home site. Unfortunately, all that remains of Lincoln's cabin is the foundation and the hearth. However, it is still neat to see.


Nearby, there is a living history farm. Interpreters inhabit the farm on certain days, so check with the Visitor's Center to see if they are present during your visit. When we were there, a number of farm animals were enjoying the cool weather.


Thoroughly enjoying the wooded area, we walked along the Trail of Twelve Stones. Each of the twelve stones along the trail comes from another site that was important in Lincoln's life. My daughter was delighted to find bricks from the Mary Todd Lincoln House as well as a stone from Gettysburg because we have been to both sites.


While exploring, you will also find a small cemetery. In the cemetery rests Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's mother. My daughter was very moved after learning that Lincoln lost his mother so young. You can easily avoid the cemetery if you do not feel your child is ready for a visit.

We truly enjoyed the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. The memorial portrays history in a way that children understand. Sometimes, kids can feel so distanced from history!

Some helpful tips: All of the sites are within easy walking distance of each other. However, if you need to, you can drive from the Visitor's Center closer to the other sites. There are bathrooms near the sites as well as in the Visitor's Center. There also are picnic tables at both locations. The trails are easy. However, I suggest avoiding using a stroller. I felt like there could have been more direction on the availability of interpreters at the farm, so I recommend asking at the Visitor's Center before you head to the farm.

The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial admission is extremely reasonable--$5 per car for  whole week! You will want to check the website for operating hours as the Visitor's Center is seasonal.

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