Wednesday, Dec. 13

City asked to join effort to bring new Abraham Lincoln attraction to town

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[DEC. 13, 2006]  Picture Abraham Lincoln seated reading a book at the front of a two-story-tall covered wagon. The giant Lincoln on a covered wagon is currently located off Interstate 55 south of Springfield. It is in the Guinness World Records and has been featured in the Chicago Tribune.

Its creator-owner wants to sell. Lincoln and Logan County tourism groups would like to buy.

Geoff Ladd from the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County is leading the effort to secure the display. He explained details of the unique opportunity to the Lincoln City Council.

Ladd said that the display is a great fit into all the current tourism sites and activities, including Looking for Lincoln, Route 66 tourism, the 2009 Lincoln bicentennial, and the Abraham Lincoln National Railsplitting Contest and Crafts Festival.

Current locations under consideration are toward the south entry of the city. He said that the Logan Railsplitting Association is interested in having the display located at a corner of the fairgrounds and would commit $1,000 toward it.

Mayor Beth Davis said that this was discussed in committee, and the city would like the display to go in at Postville Park. A lot of schoolchildren who are brought on buses to see the Postville Courthouse also visit the park. She could see that this would give them something more to enjoy and remember.

Streets superintendent Tracy Jackson said that the streets department already had plans to remove a couple of trees at Postville Park, on the Fifth and Washington Street corner. This would be a good location for the display. His department would also assist in the site preparation. Concrete pads where the wheels go are included.

The solid oak, 24-foot-tall, 12-foot-wide and 40-foot-long wagon weighs 5 tons. The 12-foot-long Lincoln is 350 pounds.

Owner David Bentley has a price of $10,000 plus $2,000 to sell and transport the display.

Alderman Buzz Busby wanted to know if the "K.D." knockdown was included.

Ladd said that the owner would do the K.D.

The mayor said that the owner would do the "S.U." setup also.

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Alderman Wanda Lee Rohlfs asked who would examine the condition of the display before it is purchased. "Most of us would not buy a car without looking at it first," she said. She thought it important to verify the condition of the exhibit before it is K.D.'d and then S.U.'d later here.

Ladd said that it is said to be in good condition but may need a coat of paint in the spring.

Time is a factor, Ladd said. The owner seems anxious to sell now. There is at least one other city that has expressed serious interest. We're in competition with the big "S" (Springfield).

Davis said that the big "L" may need to step it up.

Jackson, Alderman Whittaker, Davis and several others committed to go see the display as soon as possible.

City attorney Bill Bates observed that this type of display is an invitation for kids to climb on, and when they fall off, "You're the ones that are going to get sued."

Alderman Kathy Horn will seek insurance and risk assessment that would be needed from the city's new insurance consultant, Fred Danner.

Ladd believes he could secure $3,000 to $4,000 in commitments to assist with the costs. Not all groups have been approached yet, he said.

Tourism has two billboards on I-55 that promote Logan County sites. Ladd said that the billboards would alternate using a picture of the new Abraham Lincoln and wagon display if it came here.

Ladd said that help from the community to get this wagon here -- monetarily and planning -- would be welcomed.

[See display.]

[Jan Youngquist]


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