"Today we dedicate a new wayside exhibit for Atlanta, where Mr.
Lincoln enjoyed valued and treasured friendships, pursued his
passion for politics, and practiced his legal profession," said Hal
Smith, director of the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition,
during ceremonies on Monday.
"This wayside depicts one of the famous 'Wide Awakes' banners,
designed and carried in parades by Lincoln's campaign supporters in
Atlanta. The banner pictured in the wayside hangs in the Lincoln
College Museum in nearby Lincoln. These types of banners are
reminiscent of campaigns of the day and help us to commemorate the
special connection Lincoln had with Atlanta and Logan County.
"Lincoln visited Atlanta often and was close friends with the
town's founder and one of its leading citizens, Thomas Gill. He
often stayed at the Gill home when visiting Atlanta. It is widely
believed that Lincoln also stayed the night in Atlanta, en route to
the Freeport debate with Stephen A. Douglas, in the Senate race of
1858. Your ancestors and Lincoln's neighbors throughout central
Illinois helped to shape Abraham Lincoln in his development as a
man, a lawyer, a politician and a friend.
"The people of Atlanta were supportive of Lincoln in both the
Senate race of 1858 and the presidential campaign of 1860. Lincoln's
funeral train is said to have slowed in Atlanta during the early
morning hours, passing before a large crowd and under a flowered
archway placed over the track to pay tribute to the fallen
president, as it traveled to Springfield following Lincoln's
assassination. Stories like these will definitely enhance the
experience of visitors when they explore this unique and quaint
Over the last several months, the Looking for Lincoln Heritage
Coalition has provided an additional 46 new wayside exhibits in 25
central Illinois communities. The exhibits are a series of
beautifully designed storyboards, complete with pictures, images and
historical text, that tell unique stories about Abraham Lincoln and
his connection to the Illinois communities in the newly designated
Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area. They are termed "wayside"
exhibits because they are being placed along streets and sidewalks
to make them more accessible to visitors.
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"The latest delivery of these wayside exhibits, including the one
unique to Atlanta, are part of the second wave this year of new
Looking for Lincoln storyboards for central Illinois, designed to
enhance the visitor experience. By next summer, we plan to deliver a
total of 210 of these exhibits to 50 communities to help them more
vividly tell their own unique Lincoln story," according to Smith.
Other communities receiving wayside exhibits recently were
Carthage, Charleston, Clinton, Danville, Decatur, Elkhart, Fountain
Green, Homer, Jacksonville, LaHarpe, Lerna, Macomb, Mahomet,
Mattoon, Middletown, Monticello, Mount Pulaski, Normal, Oakland,
Petersburg, Pittsfield, Quincy, Rushville, Springfield, St. Joseph,
Urbana, Vandalia and the village of DeWitt.
The Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, designated this year
by Congress, is the only heritage area in America named for a U.S.
president. It was designated to preserve, enhance and promote
visitor experiences in the 42 counties in central Illinois where
Lincoln lived for nearly 30 years. The Looking for Lincoln Heritage
Coalition, which will manage the heritage area, is a consortium of
Lincoln-related communities and sites whose purpose is to tell the
stories about Lincoln that are unique to each site. The goal is to
interpret and protect those sites while creating satisfying visitor
Looking for Lincoln
Heritage Coalition file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]