The Historical Park is actually in two different areas. The birthplace is at Sinking Spring Farm, which Lincoln's parents had bought in 1808, paying $200.00 for 300 acres of stony land on Nolin Creek. On February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in a cabin on this property.
In 1894 a NY businessman purchased the Lincoln farmland, and had a cabin presumed to be the Lincoln cabin moved to a site near Sinking Spring. It was soon dismantled and reassembled for a traveling exhibition. In 1905 Robert Collier, publisher of Collier's Weekly, purchased the farmland. Together with Mark Twain, William Jennings Bryant, Samuel Gompers, and others, he formed the Lincoln Farm Association in 1906 to preserve Lincoln's birthplace and establish a memorial to the nation's 16th president.
That same year, the group purchased the cabin and raised over $350,000 from 100,000 citizens to build a memorial to house the cabin. President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone in 1909. In 1911 President William Howard Taft dedicated the marble and granite memorial designed by John Russell Pope. The memorial and Sinking Spring Farm were established as a national park in 1916 and designated Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Historic Site in 1959.
This is the memorial building housing the cabin. It is all climate controlled to preserve the building. There are 59 steps leading to the memorial, symbolizing the 59 years of Lincoln's life.
The cabin that was once thought to be the Lincoln cabin, but upon being researched by carbon dating, it was determined it could not be the actual cabin itself. It has still been placed in the memorial as old an typical of the area and time, and the National Park Service considers it a symbolic cabin.
Typical of Kentucky's karst topography and hydrologic systems, the spring is a significant natural resource. Its water drains through the subsurface and empties into a branch of the Nolin River a short distance from the park. Sinking Spring is a part of a network of springs and subsurface streams in and near the park. Because the spring's cave supports a variety of fragile cave biota, it is particularly sensitive to pollutants and encroachment. The National Park Service monitors those threats, which effect the cave and its environment. (NPS website)
The Sinking Spring was the most likely deciding factor of the placement for the cabin on the property. It was the primary source of daily water for the family, and most likely the source of Lincoln's first taste of water. The appearance has changed dramatically since the Lincoln era, but the rock formations on the back wall of the spring have been altered only by nature.
In the summer this is a small museum open with memorabilia, and you can also rent one of 4 small cabins to stay in overnight.
There are two walking trails here, the Boundary Oak Trail and Big Sink Trail. We did them both, and the dogs had a great time!
A newer addition to the park, Lincoln Boyhood Home at Knob Creek, is 10 miles north of the birthplace location. Due to a disputed land title, quite common at the time in the frontier, Lincoln's father was forced to give up the Sinking Spring farm. He leased 30 acres of farmland at Knob Creek, and moved his family and belongings ten miles to the new property. The family eventually lost the lease to this, and being disgruntled with the slave trade in Kentucky, Thomas Lincoln moved his family to Indiana, leaving Kentucky behind forever.
The Howard family, interested in memorializing Lincoln, purchased the property in 1931. A cabin was moved onto the property that is representative of the one Lincoln lived in as a child, and an adjacent building was constructed to supply refreshments and gas to travelers. The Boyhood Home became a successful tourist site and began to began to be recognized for its significance in Lincoln's life. It was listed on the national Register of Historic Places in 1988. Congress authorized the acquisition of the site in 1998, and the National Park Service officially assumed management on November 6, 2001.
The Boyhood Home
The valley that the Lincoln family farmed in at the Boyhood Home
Close-up showing the construction of the cabin
It was a very interesting day, and I learned quite a few things about Lincoln that I didn't know. It makes me want to learn more! We also took this opportunity to purchase our National Parks Passport book, and start collecting the stamps and cancellations of the sites we visit. There are currently over 400 National Park Service historical sites, monuments, parks and memorials to visit. It will keep us quite busy for many years finding our way to all these places :-)!
Back to work tonight! See you soon.