How to Discover the Lore of Lincoln on Illinois Route 66

Combine your search for Lincoln with an American classic, Illinois' section of the famous Route 66. 


The open road beckons, and for those seeking a quintessential American adventure, there's nothing quite like a Route 66 road trip. This legendary highway, often referred to as the "Main Street of America," weaves its way through 2,448 miles of the heartland, connecting urban hubs and rural landscapes, offering a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the United States. Among the many stops along this iconic route include Springfield, Lincoln, Bloomington and Pontiac - each city steeped in history and a tapestry into the life and career of our 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. While on your trip from Springfield to Pontiac, here are the key places and ways to discovering the lore of Lincoln. 


Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

Located on historic Route 66 in Springfield, the Presidential Museum is another gem in the living museum that is US Route 66. Here you’ll travel from the humble beginnings of a young pioneer to the halls of the White House, as the story of Lincoln comes to life as captured through original artifacts, special effects theaters with high action and ghostly images, and so much more.  Afterward step outside where you can look for Lincoln in the many authentic historic sites and stories told throughout the city.

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Here you’ll step into the daily life of the Lincoln family as you enter the only home the Lincoln’s ever owned.  A stroll through the lovely historic neighborhood surrounding the home will give you a rare glimpse of Mr. Lincoln as a husband, a father, a neighbor and a friend.

Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site

Head north of Route 66 in Lincoln country and you'll discover Oak Ridge Cemetery and the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site. The 2nd most visited cemetery in the US, behind only Arlington Cemetery in our nation’s capital, Oak Ridge is home to a majestic monument that is the final resting place for our 16th president, his wife, and three of their four children.


Railsplitter Covered Wagon

Lincoln, Illinois is a perfect mix of Lincoln history and Route 66 nostalgia. Here you’ll find a great Lincoln/Route 66 photo op at the giant Railsplitter Covered Wagon – a tribute to the city’s favorite son and the iconic kitsch that is Route 66. 

Postville Courthouse State Historic Site

Step back to Lincoln’s day for a glimpse into the life of Lincoln the lawyer, visit the Postville Courthouse State Historic Site. Step back in time as you imagine yourself arguing a point of law in this rugged, brown frame building – a replica of the building that served as the Logan County government from 1840-48.  You’ll find exhibits that tell the story of the 8th Judicial Circuit – where Lincoln honed his skills as a successful prairie lawyer.

Lincoln Heritage Museum

You also won’t want to miss a remarkable collection of Lincoln-related artifacts and documents at the Lincoln Heritage Museum, on the campus of Lincoln College.  Treasures include china, books and mourning clothing that belonged to Mary Lincoln, as well as original correspondence from President Lincoln, as well as every member of his cabinet and Civil War military leaders.

The Mill 

Just as we preserve the legacy that is Abraham Lincoln, communities all along US Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles are trying to preserve that iconic legacy of America’s Main Street.  And, Lincoln, Illinois is no exception. Check out The Mill on Route 66 – a recently saved and restored original Route 66 restaurant – now featuring a museum that tells the story of the county’s ties to the legendary road.


McLean County Historical Museum

Visit the McLean County Historical Museum – inside a beautiful old courthouse on the town square.  In the first floor visitor center, you’ll find out all about the rich Route 66 history in McLean county – as well as all the info you need for discovering the Lincoln story on Illinois Route 66.  Upstairs in the Museum, you’ll find the many stories of the people and the landscapes of McLean County through the years, including many of the local residents who were Lincoln’s contemporaries as he rose from prairie lawyer to the man who would be president. 

David Davis Mansion

Take a stop at the magnificent David Davis Mansion, which was once owned by Lincoln confidante and close friend, Judge David Davis.  This stately 19th century mansion, and its beautiful grounds, will give you a glimpse of the social and political life Lincoln knew.  History credits the influence and support of Judge Davis as an important factor on Lincoln’s success in becoming the Republican nominee for the presidency.

You’ll also want to make a stop at the Sprague Super Service Station for some iconic Route 66 photos in Bloomington. 


Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum Complex

In this charming slice of Americana, you’ll find the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum Complex – including the International Wall Dog Mural and Sign Art Museum, the Bob Waldmire Exhibit, as well as a tribute to Mr. Lincoln with the Music of the Civil War exhibit.

Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum & Resource Center

Stroll around the town square to take in all of the spectacular Murals on Main Street and be sure to stop by the Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum & Resource Center to see some of the world’s finest, and rarest, examples of the former Pontiac autos. 

  • Side Note:  Throughout the entire Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area in all of its official communities, Lincoln stories abound along the Looking for Lincoln Story Trail.  Through a series of over 200 wayside exhibits in over 50 Heritage Area communities – you’ll find stories describing the local people, events, and landscapes that played a key role in Lincoln’s journey to greatness.  For the collectors, each of the 200 storyboards includes a rubbing commemorating that particular story.  All you need is a pencil and a paper to make your very own collectible.
  • Side Note:  For those familiar with the National Park Service passport program – the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area now has official passport stamps that can be collected at a variety of stops – fitting for travel along U.S. Route 66 – one of the world’s most famous roads. For passport stamp locations, check
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