Happy February Silly Americans! As you all know, the month of February gives us all an opportunity to take a moment to honor a certain someone special in the form of a holiday. Yes, I am of course talking about President’s Day. Each year the third Monday in February is set aside for you to pay tribute to whichever president stands closest to your heart.
This February I have decided to pay homage to our sixteenth president: Abraham Lincoln. Being from the “Land of Lincoln” myself there is no doubt that it’s not hard to come across a statue or memorial dedicated to Mr. Lincoln, and this month I will be sharing five of the silliest Lincoln roadside attractions Illinois has to offer.
First up: The World’s Tallest Abraham Lincoln Statue.
We all remember Abraham Lincoln as being tall, but not this tall. The World’s Largest Lincoln proudly stands in Charleston/Ashmore, Illinois, at a height of about 72 feet, towering over surrounding trees and allowing the top of his head to be just visible to keen out lookers on the road.
The statue was built in 1969 on a campground near the Charleston Speedway. While the campground closed in the mid-nineties, Lincoln proudly stood put. Unfortunately our dear president was plagued by years of wear, flaking paint, blown-off appendages, and bullet holes that led many to dub him “The World’s Tallest and Ugliest Lincoln Statue.”
Luckily for him (and for presidents everywhere), a change of fate came in 2007 with the erection of Lincoln Springs Resort, a 130-acre family resort destination containing campgrounds, mini golf, dining, and much, much more. The tall Lincoln now stands near the resort entrance: and that meant that it was time for a facelift.
Now the World’s Tallest Lincoln statue proudly boasts a newly painted physique (and has all of his fingers in place). And, as the centerpiece to the resort’s “Abe’s Garden,” our dear president is no longer alone. He is now surrounded by a collection of mini-Abes. These wood-carved statues surround the path and show Lincoln at various stages of his life and career.
In light of all the disappearing roadside attractions that people deem “eyesores” and owners don’t bother to maintain, it would have been pretty easy for this giant Lincoln to be dismantled and removed from the American landscape for good. Instead, almost 40 years after it was first put in place, the developers of Lincoln Springs Resort decided to embrace its oddity, fix it up, and keep its legacy alive.
Abraham Lincoln once said that “common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them,” and while this statue is in no way common, I’m sure he would be proud that his 72-foot likeness has been saved.
Update: Since writing this post, Lincoln Springs Resort shut down and was bought in 2013. The fate of the giant Lincoln and his smaller companions is still up in the air.
Site: The World’s Tallest Abraham Lincoln Statue
Location: Lincoln Springs Resort, 9699 County Rd 2000 E, Ashmore, IL 61912
Cost: Free to see
Date: July 14, 2007