It"s been referred to as a ``backwoods Williamsburg."" brand-new Salem State Park, 10 twisty miles off Interstate 55 in central Illinois, is a perfectly rebuilded 1830s pioneer settlement. It"s precious a visit, not simply to evaluate the historic cooper shop, the 12 timber residences, the saw and also grist mill, the schoolhouse, or the blacksmith"s shop, however to imagine and appreciate the life lived right here by new Salem"s most famous resident: Abraham Lincoln.

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The small river city was the site of Lincoln"s very first public act of cool-headedness. The year to be 1831. Lincoln, 22 year old, was piloting a large flatboat complete of corn and also live hogs down the Sangamon River, top top his means to the Mississippi and brand-new Orleans, when the boat got stuck on a dam external the hamlet of new Salem. Townsfolk looked on together the stern of the boat started to fill with water. But young Lincoln ingeniously shifted the cargo, boring a hole in the bow that the craft, letting the water operation out, then plugged the hole -- hence saving the trip.

The townfolk to be impressed. And though Lincoln walk not know it in ~ the time, he would invest his following six years ideal in new Salem. He would certainly be a clerk, a storeowner, postmaster, and surveyor. He would study regulation in his preventive time and also lead a company of men in the black color Hawk War. Finally, at period 25 he would certainly be chosen to the State Assembly from this frontier city of 100 persons, largely farmers that cut below the difficult prairie sod to uncover some of the wealthiest soil in the world.

The area to be also an excellent soil because that Lincoln"s own development. Tiny brand-new Salem available one that America"s best historical figures the time and also the location to learn who he was and what his capability were. Lincoln earn the nickname ``Honest Abe"" below long prior to it ended up being popular in the press. Much more than one historian has noted that, to be the still-rough Lincoln to have actually gone north to Chicago to examine law, he would certainly surely have been swallowed -- made cotton -- by the crowds and currents of that huge town.

New Salem, his first home far from home, allowed Lincoln to, in his words, ``get hold of something the was knotty"" -- law and also politics -- and also wrestle v them, as he wrestled in sport with the local toughs. Yet by 1840, the year Lincoln left brand-new Salem for a regulation firm in Springfield, the brand-new state resources only 20 miles southeast, the small town urgently -- a victim, like numerous speculative flow towns, of the almighty railroad.

When the state that Illinois set about reconstructing brand-new Salem in 1932, no original structures remained. Some of Lincoln"s very own surveying work helped historians discover original structures for the town structures. Most were log dwellings -- no to be perplexed with log cabins, i m sorry settlers offered only till they can erect log in houses, which to be chinked and also tightly sealed with a mud-and-wheat straw cement daubing.

Matthew Patterson, a ranger at new Salem whose family members has resided in these components for much more than 160 years, points out that the log dwellings with fireplaces ~ above either finish suggest the residents were southerly uplanders indigenous Kentucky, if a fireplace in the center of the dwelling indicates a family that moved from the north. ``They knew just how to keep warm!""


The repair is open up year-round however is quiet throughout much the the year. During the summer season, however, new Salem structures are staffed with volunteers in duration costume that make the town come alive as they demonstrate the crafts typical to a settlement in the 19th-century - rotate yarn, dipping candles, and also blacksmithing.

Most are professionals in the lives of the personalities who made the -- and lost that -- in brand-new Salem in the 1830s. Because that example, Mentor Graham ran the ``blab school,"" a one-room schoolhouse where youngsters repeated their lessons big over and over again. And also James Rutledge, that came from southern Carolina, opened up the ``town tavern,"" i beg your pardon in those days meant a hotel -- a place to sleep, eat, and also get your equine cared for at 37 cent a day. It to be Mr. Rutledge"s daughter, Ann, who came to be Lincoln"s an initial close woman confidante, follow to Jim Patton, the working blacksmith at new Salem today. Mr. Patton has an encylopedic knowledge of frontier lore and also the some 4,000 period artifacts top top display. New Salem, the claims, is ``the most complete and also accurate log in home town in the country.""

The many appealing point I discovered about new Salem is its peaceful atmosphere. There space no tickets, no schedules, no hard-sell travel - nothing come interfere with the oaks and also sycamores and the sound of roosters and other breed boy that aid one imagine life here in an previously time. Helpful information

Entry to brand-new Salem State Park is free. Campsites price $6 every night; RV hookups space available. The only location to buy something is the snack bar and gift shop -- i m sorry has wonderful collection of new and used publications on the civil War and also Lincoln.

During July and August, there"s fantastic outdoor repertory theater inside the park dubbed ``The great American world Show."" On alternating evenings, the repertory provides a regime on the life that Lincoln through his speeches and also ``situations""; a look at Lincoln through the eyes of three neighborhood poets: Carl Sandburg, Vachel Lindsay, and also Edgar Lee Masters; and a look at the heritage of Lincoln in the 20th century.

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Other planned occasions for 1987 encompass Scout Conservation job on April 25; a Quilt present on June 20-21; a Summer Festival ~ above July 18-19; a Storytelling Festival top top Aug. 22-23; a traditional Music and Bluegrass Festival, Sept. 19-20; a Candlelight tour on Oct. 10; and Christmas at brand-new Salem, Dec. 5-6.