Following the Lincoln Trail – Hodgenville, KY

 July, 2011

I’m a huge American History buff. I especially love learning as much as possible about our Founding Fathers and early presidents who were so instrumental in shaping our nation. Abraham Lincoln is, of course, one of my favorite presidents for many reasons. He was born in Hodgenville, KY. Lucky for me, that’s not too far from Louisville, so I decided to take a little weekend adventure to visit Lincoln’s birthplace. I reserved a room at Southern Grace Bed and Breakfast, which is located in Brandenburg, KY. The owners were gracious hosts, showing me to my room with a private bath, introducing me to their sheepdog, Dumas, and encouraging me to take full advantage of the pool. They also invited me to explore the mini farm, complete with animals, wild flowers, and fishing pond. Homemade banana cake and fresh fruit were available at my desire. I took a dip in the pool, visited with Dumas the dog and, then, grabbed a small slice of banana cake before turning in for the night. Peaceful slumber.

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The next morning greeted me with the smells of bacon, farm fresh eggs, and french toast, complete with piping hot coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice. After my delicious breakfast, I headed off to Hodgenville, in search of Lincoln.

The rain was coming down steadily, but it felt good on a hot summer’s day. I hadn’t traveled very far before coming upon a funeral procession for a fallen firefighter. I said a quiet prayer for his family as I watched the American flag being hoisted high in the hero’s honor

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I arrived in Hodgenville and started with the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site. A wooden pathway allowed me to cover the entire park without have to get my shoes muddy. I viewed the log cabin where Abe was born, where he spent his first few years, and where his mother died. I continued hiking after I had seen all of the sites, simply because the pathway offered such a peaceful setting for a quiet walk.

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401765_3233877092896_759066605_n270498_1813718869828_4373359_nKC-cabin1Next, I visited the Lincoln Museum, in the heart of downtown Hodgenville. It seemed like a shabby little place upon arrival, but I was pleasantly surprised at how many interesting artifacts it contained.

Some of my favorite items included a portrait of Lincoln’s mother, several artistic sculptures created by Kentucky students, and Lincoln’s life mask. Have you ever seen the television show, Death Mask? It is an interesting documentary that explains how masks were created of notable people’s faces upon their deaths so that bust sculptures can be created for historical purposes. Lincoln’s mask was created while he was still living, so it is known as a “life mask.”

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I was most excited to have the opportunity to view my absolute favorite photograph of Lincoln. Most folks aren’t even aware that it exists! The photographer was hiding behind some bushes when Lincoln was visiting a cemetery near the summer cottage where he and his family stayed during the summer months while the White House received a thorough cleaning. He had removed his top hat in reverence to the many who were buried there. His head was bowed as if in prayer. Lincoln’s grief was obvious as he pondered the number of lives that were sacrificed to insure a united nation. The photo offers a rare glimpse of the vast amount of stress and pressure this president endured, and the toll it took on his heart.

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As I made my way back to Brandenburg, I stopped to visit the Jailhouse Inn Pizza Parlor. It’s an old jailhouse which was converted into a restaurant. Guests can actually dine in the jail cells, sit in an old wooden electric chair, and climb the stairs to the hanging gallows. I didn’t eat there, as the place was pack, but it was fun to see! The Jailhouse sits on the Ohio River, which allowed a perfect place for an evening stroll. I watched the sun as it was setting. Peace like a river.

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I made my way back to the B&B and enjoyed another late night swim before heading to bed. The next day, I visited the Doe Run Inn for lunch. It is an old log cabin restaurant and hotel which Abraham Lincoln’s father helped build. It is said that the money he made from this construction project is what allowed him to afford the cost of moving his family from Kentucky to Indiana. The restaurant offers country food at its finest. Guests who wish to spend the night can rent one of the rooms upstairs, which are decorated exactly as they were in the 1800’s. A large, rambling creek rolls behind the Inn, making for beautiful scenery. Many weddings are held there. I was able to get a shot of the creek just as the rain had stopped and steam was rising from the water.

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