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Springfield

Springfield

The Illinois state capital of Springfield spreads out from a neat, downtown grid. Abraham Lincoln honed his legal and political skills here, and tourists flock to his old homes, haunts, and final resting place.

The number one Lincoln attraction is the only house he ever owned, and which he shared with his wife, Mary Todd from 1844 to 1861. For a free narrated tour, pick up tickets at the Lincoln Home Visitor Center, 426 S Seventh St (daily 8.30am–5pm; Tel:217/492-4241, Web: www.nps.gov/liho ).

Four blocks north, at 212 N Sixth St, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (daily 9am–5pm; Library is free, Museum $10; Tel:217/782-5764, Web: www.alplm.org ) is a state-of-the-art new facility that covers Lincoln's career in exhaustive detail, with fascinating original documents and interactive displays.

In the Old State Capitol, at Sixth and Adams nearby (mid-April to Aug daily 9am–5pm; Sept to mid-April Tues– Sat 9am–5pm; free; Tel:217/785-7960), Lincoln attended at least 240 Supreme Court hearings. Objects, busts, and papers relating to Lincoln and the Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, who he defeated in the 1860 presidential race, can be found throughout the building. At the tastefully renovated Lincoln Depot on Tenth and Monroe streets (April– Aug daily 10am–4pm; free), the newly elected president said goodbye to Springfield in February 1861 and boarded a train for his inauguration in Washington, DC. The next time he returned was in his funeral train. Lincoln's Tomb, an 117ft-tall obelisk, stands in beautiful Oak Ridge Cemetery on the north side of town. The vault, adorned with busts and statuettes, is open to the public (June– Aug Tues 7pm–8pm; March– Oct Tues– Sat 9am–5pm and June to Aug Tues 7–8pm; Nov– Feb daily 9am–4pm; free).