This post was written by Lance M. Burris – from Plainfield, Indiana.
Inspired by the movie “Lincoln,” my wife Nancy and some friends, Todd and Debbie, headed out from the west-side of Indianapolis (Plainfield) on one of our road-trips to Springfield, Illinois. Our first mission was to learn all we could about the 16th President of the United States before seeing the movie. Our second objective was to try out new places to dine, satisfy our “Fun to Eat and Travel” and mark off another letter of the alphabet at places we had eaten.
Note: Photo Images courtesy of Lance Burris © 2013
A Lincoln Visit to Springfield, IL
After an hour and a half drive on Interstate 74 we reached our first destination; “The Beef House Restaurant” in Covington, Indiana. Nestled in a forest of trees, it provides a beautifully landscaped and picturesque setting.
This restaurant raises and processes their nurtured Black Angus meats for freshness. They are also famous for their outstanding, delicious Yeast Rolls served with home-made Strawberry Jam or Apple Butter. If you like a good steak cooked over a wood or charcoal fire, this is the place to be. The menu for steaks ranges from an 8 oz Rib-eye for $19.95 to a New York Strip for $32.95 to an extra large Filet Mignon for $40.65 and all prices in between. The 2013 Beef House Dinner Theatre is open from July to August and features such shows as “The Buddy Holly Story,” “Rave on, Rock on, Live on,” and “Patsy Cline.” You won’t be disappointed if you stop here for lunch or dinner.
Arriving in Springfield, we spent the night at a local chain hotel rising early in the morning to get a jump-start on the day after breakfast. We arrived at the Museum shortly after it opened and the visitor traffic was light and we got right in. The admission fees were; Adult-$12.00, Seniors-$9.00 and Children-$6.00 which we thought was a bargain for what we were about to see.
Upon entry to the Museum we had our picture taken with life-size wax replicas of Lincoln and his family.
The Museum itself is well laid-out so that you can go in one direction and see everything including displays on the Lincoln Pre-President years, The President Years, The War Years and other informative information. We strolled into an auditorium and sat down to see and listen to the War Years and the auditorium came alive with sounds and sights of the Civil War; cannons exploding, the ground shaking from the sounds of war, the flash of cannons firing and the voices of attacks.
Another fantastic show was The Ghost of the Library. Sitting on benches we looked at a stage that appeared to be protected by a glass plate window. It was the Lincoln Library and a librarian was talking about the library and Lincoln. As he was talking, a Union Soldier appeared and disappeared right before your eyes. At the end of the show, the librarian also disappeared. They looked so real and yet, they were holograms. It was a moving experience.
We left the Museum about noon and went in search of a 50’s type drive-in named “Cozy Dog.” A short distance from the Museum we found it on Route 66. Entering the drive-in we noticed an abundance of early year memorabilia. We discovered the drive-in was founded in 1949 and progressed through the years to its present form. Pictures on the wall were of many famous people and movie stars who had visited and eaten at the drive-in; including the stars of the 60’ series “Route 66,” Martin Milner and Tod Stiles. We ordered up Cozy Dog Baskets for $9.45 which consisted of four golden brown Cozy Dogs and a more than ample supply of French fries.
After we had our fill of wieners french-fried in corn-bread batter, we headed out to find the Lincoln homestead. Abraham and Mary Lincoln moved into a one floor cottage in 1839 which was expanded to a two floor home in 1844. We found that the Lincoln home is operated by the National Park Service and free guided tour tickets could be obtained from the Visitors Center Information Desk.
After we had completed the tour, we found Abraham and Mary Lincoln seated under a tree in the back yard. The Lincoln impersonator was one of the best I’ve seen and should have starred in the movie “Lincoln.” His likeness and manner was uncanny.
Leaving the Lincoln’s former home, we set out in search to find the Lincoln burial site in Oak Ridge Cemetery. As we drove into the cemetery; there it was, all 117 feet of granite, majestically posed as a monument and memorial to the late President. Free entry into the memorial presented an opportunity to see several bronze busts of Lincoln and his actual casket surrounded by United States Flags. This was his final resting place after being brought back by train and interned in a temporary vault awaiting the finish of the monument. A short drive, and behind the monument, we found the temporary vault and learned that there had been an attempt to steal his body and hold it for ransom in the early days of his burial.
Shortly after our historic trip, we had the opportunity to see the movie “Lincoln” and recommend it to all who are interested in the early years of our country and the trials and tribulations Lincoln and his associates went through during his Presidency, the Civil War, family and the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The movie was realistic and I was surprised to see the lighting in which it was filmed to be authentic to those days.
I recommend the trip to Springfield, Illinois to visit the Lincoln Museum, the Lincoln Homestead and the Burial Memorial. And, while you are there try the Cozy Dogs at the Route 66 Drive-In. The Beef House Restaurant also comes highly recommended if you are ever on Interstate 74 in Covington, Indiana.
Hey, what can I say, we “Love to Eat and Travel.”
More Info on Abraham Lincoln:
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum