Elizabethtown, Kentucky and Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday March 28- I was up early and prepped the RV to head toward Elizabethtown, Kentucky. I had made plans to see the General Patton Museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky. My last visit to the area did not pan out for the museum. I wanted to take advantage of my migration north with the warming seasons.

The RV was ready. I needed to run the car before towing. This is required for the transmission’s health. I drove to Hohenwald, stopped at the McDonalds and ordered a sausage egg McMuffin with a coffee. I returned to the RV and connected the tow bar. Having made my checks I headed east on U.S. 412.

In spite of all the gaffes I continue to use Google Maps. It directed me to U.S. 31 North then onto Tennessee SR 396 east to I-65 north all the way to Elizabethtown. I fueled up at a Speedway at Columbia, Tennessee before getting on the Interstate. Diesel cost $2.86/ gallon. The total trip was 205 miles. Most of it was highway with the exception of SR 396. It either rained, or misted most of the way. The sun never broke through. The trip should have taken just over three hours. It took closer to 3 1/2 hours. I only made two brief stops, one for fuel and one for a good stretch at the first rest stop in Kentucky.

There was a five mile back up just north of Nashville. It was raining hard. The traffic was thick and people were consistently in the wrong lanes where I-24 and I-65 converge and then part again. Just north of these intersections the traffic came to a halt. There was a bad accident ahead. For five miles the traffic went from a stop to a five mph crawl up to 15 mph to a crawl again. An overhead sign announced that the left lane (the lane I was in) was closed ahead. I moved to the right as soon as I could. Of course other people cannot read, or refuse to move over before the closure site. This made matters worse as they pushed their way into the right lane at the last second. I hope that there were no fatalities in the accident but the roof of the pickup was caved in and the back windows of an SUV looked like they had been broken out by EMS for an extraction. The way people had been driving with the severe rains and strong winds, it’s a wonder that there weren’t more accidents. Earlier I was cut off by someone who was texting and had shifted lanes between my front bumper and the rear bumper of a car in the lane to my right. Remember, the highway is no place to practice NASCAR, especially not while texting in the rain.

I pulled off I-65 at exit 94 US 62 east. A short ways up I turned onto Tunnel Hill Road then turned left into Crossroads Campground. There was a sign on the office to call the office phone. Someone was on duty but they were out taking care of something. I returned to my RV to get my phone. I called the number and soon caught sight of the young woman I was speaking with as she was walking toward the office.

Registration went easily. I was asked if I wanted a cable receiver box. I declined it until I was told that it was already included in the cost. Well why not then. I was assigned RV site # 40. It is located on the end of the row closest to the main road Leann Way. The site is wide and leveled with packed stone. Not all of the sites look as level as site 40 but they all appear to have their sweet spots. I was able to pull in and found the best spot to connect up. Everything tested good. I set up the cable box but it did not work. The green power light blinked on and off once every second.I had no picture, and no sound.

I returned to the office to ask about the cable box problem. The attendant didn’t know anything about it. She gave me a new box with the promise that I would return the the old one. The replacement box worked. It was easy. I programmed the TV to receive on channel 3 off the air and used the cable box tuner to change channels. The cable service is Infinity Comcast. There are a lot of channels including some of my favorites, BBC, Travel Channel and whatever local channels are Jeopardy providers. I tried my second TV. The cable routes to it but for some reason I cannot use it with the cable box. I experimented and found that I can program the Digital Channels and received several channels having to do with the cable box setup and the BBC News channel. That’s all.

That evening I located a Bob Evans Restaurant. I was hungry for a country fried steak, green beans, and mashed potatoes. The meals are uniform wherever you find a Bob Evans. I finished up with a piece of apple pie a la mode. I saved the blueberry bread for my breakfast.

Before calling it a night I looked up The General Patton Museum hours. To my disappointment the museum has been closed since November 1, 2017 and will be closed until July 1, 2018. What do they say about perfect planning? It isn’t meant to be. There’s always something else to do and see.

Thursday March 29- It rained all day. I decided to wash my bedding and catch up on any other laundry. I did not want to drive around sight seeing in the heavy rains. The RV park laundry room was very clean and the machines did an excellent job It cost $1.50 to wash a load and $1.25 to dry each load. It cost $5.50 for two loads. I used the time to listen to a Rick Steve’s podcast about Berlin and ate my blueberry bread.

After completing the laundry, I readied myself then headed off to check out a local coffee shop. It was only 10:30AM. I bypassed the Starbucks to find the Pea Pod Cafe. It doesn’t even exist. Thank you Google Maps. My next choice was the Cobbler’s Cafe in downtown Elizabethtown. Unfortunately there was nowhere to park. I went around the block twice before giving that up.

Just down the street on East Dixie Avenue was a small parking lot with historical markers located below a large hillside graveyard. I stopped to read the markers. One marker told the early history of the forts in the area. two plaques glorified the victories of Confederate General Morgan and Morgan’s Raiders. A fourth marker told about Bond-Washington School. It was a small condensed historical tribute to Elizabethtown.

I traveled south on SR 61/ U.S. 31W past I-65 continuing on SR 61 (Lincoln Highway) to Hodgenville where I turned right onto U.S. 31E. A short ways up on the right I reached the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park. Straight ahead a large monument sits on a hillside. I did not know what I was looking at. I first went to the visitors center to get a lay of the land. https://www.nps.gov/abli/index.htm

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Bronze Statue of Thomas and Nancy Lincoln, with Sara and Abraham

Just inside the visitors center a bronze statue depicts Thomas and Nancy Lincoln with their two children, Sara, and Abraham. Abraham Lincoln was born here but the family had to move when Abraham was only two years old. Thomas had bought the prime property at Sinking Springs Farm but a land dispute forced them off the land. His attempts to regain the property were fruitless.

The visitors center has a simplistic history presentation. there is also a mock up of a one room cabin with a children’s learning center. The 8 minute movie reviews the historical aspects of the property and the building of the monument. The memorial is billed as the first Lincoln Memorial since it opened in 1911, eleven years before the memorial in Washington D.C.. The memorial houses a log cabin that was reconstructed to fit within the floor plan of the interior. The cabin was thought to be the original Lincoln home but was later determined to be too new to qualify as the original cabin. It was modified for aesthetic reasons yet it is a good depiction of the type of cabins built during the early settlement period.

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The Memorial With Sinking Spring Below to the Left

The memorial cornerstone was laid on Lincoln’s birthday in 1909 by President Theodore Roosevelt. President William Howard Taft dedicated the memorial at the opening ceremony on November 9, 1911. The number 16 figures prominently in the construction to commemorate the 16th president of the United States. The fifty-six steps that lead to the monument represent the fifty-six years that Lincoln lived. The words above the front door is a quote from Lincoln’s second inaugural address, “With malice toward none, with charity for all”.

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The Log Cabin Inside the Memorial

I walked around the grounds up the fifty-six steps to the front doors of the monument. The sign there directed visitors to the back entrance. the interior floor was constructed of a polished patterned marble. The sixteen windows supplied ample interior light. I spoke briefly with a park ranger. She had been assigned to the site for two years. I learned that the temperature and humidity control helped preserve the cabin requiring very little maintenance. I checked out the cabin walking around it. A chain keeps people a safe distance from the cabin. I peered in but the chain prevented entry.

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Sinking Spring

While on site I investigated the Sinking Spring namesake of the property. Water runs down the hillside, over rocks and down a circular opening in the ground where the stream pools before flowing off below. The ranger had told me that there have been times that the pool had flooded to the top of the rocks forming a vortex as it drained. Considering the amount of rain that I had seen and the shallow depth of the waters, the flooding must have been of Biblical proportions by comparison.

The Nancy Lincoln Inn and several cabins are on the property. It is privately owned. They were not open.

I left the park heading north across SR 61 to downtown Hodgenville. The downtown square has a traffic circle surrounding a central park with a seated statue of Lincoln to the west facing east and a boyhood statue of Lincoln to the east looking upon the seated statue. The southernmost building of the northwest corner of the square is home to the Lincoln Museum. I parked my car in front of the museum paid the $3.50 entrance fee and started my self guided tour.

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The Lincoln Museum

The museum displays were a little dated but informative. Each of the displays depicted important moments in Lincoln’s life. The life sized mannequins represented Lincoln and others. There was plenty of memorabilia to look at. I noted that people with young children did not spend much time at the museum. I spent an hour reading all the main displays. It was very interesting and well kept. I wonder if it can endure the lack of interest of a younger generation. I think the parents lacked the skills to engage the kids. It’s up to them to explain make it more interactive. Just looking at stiff figures didn’t do it for the kids that day. The museum is worth the cost. Take your time and learn something new.

I walked around the square and visited a book store. There was nothing there for me. The two bronze statues on the center circle were very interesting. Having seen enough I drove east of the square to visit Lincoln’s Boyhood Home at Knob Creek. https://www.nps.gov/abli/planyourvisit/boyhood-home.htm

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The Knob Creek home is located east of Hodgenville on U.S. 31E. The Lincoln family lived on the thirty acre farm for nine years after leaving the Sinking Springs Farm. They leased the property. Thomas Lincoln and other land owners faced eviction and Thomas decided to move to Spencer County, Indiana.

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Log Cabin at The Boyhood Home Site
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The Lincoln Cabin

A period log cabin was moved to the site. The Lincoln Tavern was opened on the site in 1933. The Howards had bought the property and erected the tavern as both a business and a tourist stop. It is now run by the National Park Service. There is a park ranger building but it was not manned when I was there. Everything was locked up with the exception of the restrooms. I walked around, reading the few markers. After I had seen enough, (in the drizzling rain) I drove two miles up the road to see the school that Lincoln and his sister attended. A plaque marks the location in the front yard of a private property.

I drove back to Elizabethtown and bought some groceries at a Kroger store. I returned to the RV, ate and finished up the evening reading, working on my blog, and watching some TV. That was enough for the day.

 

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