Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day Three - the Land of Lincoln

Before we left St. Louis this morning, we walked across the street from our hotel to see the St. Louis Gateway Arch, the largest national monument in the United States, standing at 630 feet. None of the pictures I'd seen of this over-17,000-ton stainless steel structure prepared me for how magnificent it truly is. There's a tram that goes to the top, but two of us out-voted the third to NOT take the ride. With Luke's fear of elevators and my fear of heights, it didn't sound the least appealing to either one of us! The view was just beautiful from the ground, thank-you-very-much.

I had no idea that an entire museum lay beneath the ground between the two "legs" of the arch. The Museum of Westward Expansion is worth taking several hours to see. I was disappointed that I didn't plan more time there. It covers the entire history of our country's westward expansion and has some lively exhibits about St. Louis history. There are several dioramas with life-like robotic characters that each tell their story in history.

We took a final spin around the city, catching a glimpse of the stadium where the St. Louis Rams play, and then took I-72 up to Springfield, Illinois, to see the Lincoln Museum and Library.

The exhibits in the Lincoln Museum were stunning and we were informed and entertained by two presentations in the theaters there, each incorporating holograms and special effects. One exhibit room is filled with artifacts from significant events in the Lincolns' lives. To see the very hat that Lincoln wore, impressions from his own fingers worn in the brim, from 'tipping' his hat to people, was indescribable. The gloves that were in his pocket the night he was shot, stained with his blood. The dishes Mary Todd Lincoln ordered for the White House. It brought to life this couple who had previously been distant historical figures in my mind.
A few blocks from the museum is the Lincoln home, the only house the family owned and their residence for the 17 years prior to Abraham Lincoln's presidency.

Today was definitely a long day and probably the busiest of our road trip. It was nice to get to our hotel, have some supper at the Applebee's next door, and the kids took a dip in the pool. Tomorrow is a light travel day, so we'll sleep in a bit in the morning!


Mary said...

I love visiting Presidential Libraries. We have been to the Truman and Eisenhower ones so far, and after reading your description, I am putting the Lincoln one high on my list! Have fun.

Judy said...

Karen, I am having such a great time traveling 'with' you!

Becky said...

I lived in central IL, Bloomington to be exact, for 13 years, right before we moved to FL in 1991. The Lincoln museum is new since we moved, and I have not been there yet. But it is on our list of things to do when we visit the next time. Looks wonderful.

You are having fun in "my neck of the woods" the last couple of days. Did the Cardinals win??

Bill said...

I'm enjoying your trip!
The more I learn about Lincoln, the more I respect & love him. He was a remarkable man, and lived through such heartache from childhood through his last days.
I'd like to read more about him. It seems that his humanism, compassion, and sense of justice evolved as he found his correct path in this world.

Susanne said...

I had no idea the arch was stainless steel. See I'm learning so much about the States from your little road trip!

Jen said...

Nice educational day. Madison and I need to go up there and do this one day...great road trip. We are so close and have never done it.

gail@more than a song said...

Looks like y'all had a good road trip! I've never been to St. Louis to see the arch but I can't imagine not going to the top! Although I have a fear of heights too so if I saw it, I might change my mind.
How fun to go to a game.