Get Your Road Trip Started with Jane Simon Ammeson
Join guest author, Jane Simon Ammeson, as she takes readers on a sneak peak tour of her upcoming release. Get ready to travel the country, visit historical landmarks, and expand your knowledge of America's sixteenth president with Lincoln Road Trip. Coming to a bookstore near you April 1, 2019!
Abraham Lincoln aficionados needn’t spend all their time in museums and libraries to get to know the 16th President of the United States. Instead—and even better as far as I’m concerned—we can trace a major part of his life’s journey through Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio on a road trip taking us along the back roads and byways as he grew from a displaced boy, when his parents were forced to leave their farm in Kentucky (really make that farms, because Tom Lincoln was really unlucky with land deals back then), to the woods of Southern Indiana still filled with cougars and bears, and on to Illinois where he struggled at first in finding his place in the world. That was a time that included several failed stints as a store owner (he’s the only president to have held a liquor license), several courtships including the doomed romance with Ann Rutledge and one, possibly very unhappy, marriage, and then a rise in stature as both an attorney and politician.
On our Lincoln road trip, we can dine at the Log Inn where Lincoln stopped in 1844. Known as the Noon Day Inn back then, the stage coach stop in Warrenton had already been serving travelers for almost 20 years, having opened in 1825 making it the oldest restaurant in continuous operation in Indiana. Now expanded many times over, the interior with its original hewn log walls and chinking still is much as it was when Lincoln came to dine and where drivers changed horses on the 21-hour run (if the weather was good) between Evansville and Vincennes. While here, Lincoln visited his old homestead where his mother was buried in what is now the Lincoln National Boyhood Memorial and stopped at the home of Colonel William Jones, now a state historic site, where Lincoln met with the friends of his youth and urged them to vote for Henry Clay for president.
We can kayak a section (or all—but it is 85 miles) on the Lincoln Heritage Water Trail on the Sangamon River as it stretches between Decatur to Petersburg, Illinois with plenty of stops such as the Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park and Memorial.
In Granville, Ohio, we can dine and spend the night at the Buxton Inn, built in 1812 and one of the state’s oldest continuously operating inns. A stagecoach stop on the line between Columbus and Newark, Lincoln stayed here as did the much more flamboyant William Henry Harrison who is said to have, after imbibing way too much, rode his horse up the stairs. And no, the horse didn’t get to spend the night—friends of Harrison, led the horse back out of the building while, we suspect, the statesman was sleeping it off.
Yet, Harrison figures again on our journey. When the Lincoln family, including 21-year-old Abe, were leaving Indiana for Illinois, they stopped to have their wagon fixed and while waiting in Vincennes, Indiana located on the Wabash River, the family visited Grouseland, the grand 1804 Georgian/Federal-style home where Harrison and his family resided when he was Governor. The Lincolns also visited the city’s brand new cathedral (and now one of the oldest in the country) and Abe, an avid reader, also stopped by the office of Vincennes Western Sun newspaper. All remain and are open to visitors.
So much of Lincoln remains on these side road journeys. It is a way to experience his life in a very personal way.
Jane Simon Ammeson is a freelance writer and photographer who specializes in travel, food, and personalities. She writes frequently for many newspapers, magazines, websites, and apps and is the author of 13 books, including Hauntings of the Underground Railroad, Murders that Made Headlines, and How to Murder Your Wealthy Lovers and Get Away With It.
Ammeson is a James Beard Foundation judge, as well as a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and Midwest Travel Journalists Association (MTJA), Jane’s home base is on the shores of Lake Michigan in southwest Michigan. Follow Jane on Facebook; Twitter @HPAmmeson and @travelfoodIN; and on her blogs, Will Travel for Food with Jane Ammeson and janeammeson.blog.