Saturday, August 15, 2009

Looking for Lincoln in Louisville, KY

My motel stay in Elizabethtown was a cheap traveler's (like me) dream. I found a Super 8.

Next door was a Waffle House, two doors a convenience store with a popcorn machine, and three doors a Church's Chicken store (my absolute favorite chicken).

This morning I left for Louisville (after breakfast at the Waffle House); forty-five minutes later I was in the parking lot of the Farmington Plantation House in Louisville. In 1841, after having broken up with wife-to-be Mary Todd, Lincoln was despondent. His best friend, Joshua Speed invited Abe to accompany him for a three-week at his family's hemp plantation in Louisville. Lincoln agreed. Farmington specialized in raising hemp and this work intensive product meant that the Speeds had 60 slaves. On the steamboat ride back toward Springfield, Lincoln witnesses more slaves chained together as they were being taken to New Orleans. Despite his abhorrence of the slave trade, Lincoln grew very fond of the Speed family. When elected President, Lincoln offered the Secretary of Treasure position to Joshus (he refused) and named older brother James to be his Attorney General for his second term.

Today only the Plantation House remains and no photography was allowed inside the house, I still learned a great deal from their audio introduction program and from the docent tour.
From Farmington, I drove to the Speed Art Museum on the campus of the University of Louisville. The museum had a featured traveling program called "Beyond the Log Cabin: Kentucky's Abraham Lincoln" and using paintings, photography, relics and the written word they expressed their pride in their "Native Son" Lincoln.

Also in the museum, was a display of the steps of a local sculptor who produced a large statue of Lincoln sitting on a rock which was recently installed at Riverside Park on the River in downtown Louisville. This display outlines the steps taking when producing that statue.
From here I drove across the river to Jeffersonville, Indiana to visit the Howard Riverboat Museum. During the steamboat era, virtually all western steamboats were made in either Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, or Louisville. The Howard Riverboat Company built the most.
The museum is housed in the home of the Howard family. In addition to wonderfully opulent furnishings, the rooms are now filled with steamboat models, pictures of steamboats, and collected relics from historic steamboats. For those interested in steamboats, this is a DO NOT MISS attraction. They also had a wonderful collections of books for sale in their gift shop.
One other item of interest today. When looking for the Steamboat Museum, I stopped at a riverside seafood restaurant along the Ohio River. I asked my waiter if he knew the location of the Museum. He said he did not, but he would ask others. A few minutes later as I was eating lunch, he brought me a Google Map and Google directions from the restaurant to the museum.
This was "duty beyond the call".

Tomorrow I move to Cincinnati to begin my 39th Elderhostel.

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