Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park
Location: 2995 Lincoln Farm Rd; Hodgenville, KY 42748
Smashed Penny Machine: No
Lincoln Birthplace Park is about two hours and fifteen minutes East of Evansville and about an
hour South of Louisville. The park consists of two properties where the Lincoln family once lived. Sinking Springs is the larger portion of the park. The Knob Creek site is about 10 miles from the main park. The Visitor’s Center and memorial is at Sinking Springs. There is a seasonally staffed ranger station at Knob Creek along with restrooms.
We chose to visit only the Sinking Springs portion of the park. We started our visit at the Visitor’s Center. The Visitor’s Center has a small museum explaining President Lincoln’s life in Kentucky and general information about life on the frontier in the early 1800’s. The museum is fairly small but had a replica of a log cabin main room and a play area with Lincoln Logs which the kids really enjoyed. The Visitor’s Center also shows a short 15-minute video and has a small bookstore/gift shop.
After completing the museum portion of the Jr Ranger books, we took the boardwalk trail behind the Visitor’s Center (this is also the handicap assessable path to reach the memorial) up to the memorial. The memorial sits on the top of the hill where the Lincoln cabin was probably located. You can also access the memorial by walking up the steps in front of the memorial from the parking lot. Inside the Memorial building sits a log cabin. It is not the family’s actual cabin but it is representative of what the cabin probably looked like. You are not able to enter the cabin. There are a few plaques inside the memorial describing the significance of some of the architectural features of the memorial.
After looking at the cabin, we decided to hike the Boundary Oak Trail, which starts just behind the Memorial. The trail is probably about a quarter mile. There is one semi-steep hill and the trail is all gravel. The trail is not hard, my three-year-old nephew, two-year-old daughter and eighty-year-old grandmother all walked it without problem. There is not a lot to see along the trail. It meanders through the trees. Some of the trees have small plaque beside them identifying the type of tree and giving a few examples of how settlers would have used this type of wood. The path does cross a small stream twice, which my nephew enjoyed wading across it with his rain boots. The trail is probably a little nicer either late April/early May when wild flowers would be blooming or October when the leaves are in Fall colors.
The Boundary Oak Trail comes back out of the woods near the base of the stairs for the memorial. Just to the left of the memorial stairs is a small set of stone stairs that lead to the spring the family would have used as a water source. From the sinking spring we walked back up to the Visitor’s Center to turn in the Jr Ranger books and get our badges
Overall: Honestly, there isn’t a lot to do at this park. Lincoln Boyhood in Indiana is a better experience with the reenactment farm and larger museum. There doesn’t seem to be much else to do in the general area either. The park would make a nice stop off if you were traveling along I-65 (park is about 20 minutes from the Elizabethtown exits) and wanted a short stop off to let kids burn some energy. You could also easily combine this with a trip to Mammoth Cave National Park (about 45 minutes Southwest). Unless you are really Lincoln history buff or trying to collect all your Jr Ranger badges (which we are both) I would not go out of my way for this park.