Illinois may call itself the "Land of Lincoln" but only Kentucky is home to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th and perhaps, most revered US President after George Washington, was born in a small cabin in Sinking Spring just south of Hodgenville, Kentucky on February 12, 1809. When he was just two, his family moved to Knob Creek Farm, northeast of Hodgenville, where they remained until 1816. This time they moved north, across the Ohio River, to what is now Spencer County, Indiana. Lincoln was just 7 years old.
The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park preserves these two separate farm sites in LaRue County, Kentucky, and they are well worth a visit.
The cornerstone of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Memorial Building at the Sinking Spring site was laid by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1909 and dedicated by President William Howard Taft in 1911. The neo-classical edifice features 16 windows, 16 rosettes on the ceiling, and 16 fence poles, representing Lincoln's being the 16th president. The building's 56 steps represent President Lincoln's age at the time of his assassination.
Inside the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Memorial Building is a restored log cabin meant to represent the cabin Lincoln was born in. The actual log cabin was dismantled sometime in the mid 1800's and the story of what became of those logs is somewhat of a mess, along with many other aspects of Lincoln's early life. As satirist Richard Armour liked to joke, if the hucksters are right, Lincoln was born in three states and two cabins.
The second part of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, Knob Creek Farm, is 10 miles away from the Sinking Spring site and features a 19th-century log cabin and a historic tavern. This log cabin is also not original to the site but is believed to have belonged to the Lincoln's neighbors. Abraham Lincoln spoke of almost drowning in Knob Creek before being saved by the neighbor's son as one of his earliest memories.
Visiting Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park near Hodgenville, Kentucky not only offers insight into the early life of one of America's most influential people but also into the beginnings of one of the world's most influential countries: the United States of America.