Lincoln Landing

After several months of reconstruction, GSBF reopened Lincoln Landing on June 14.

When he was a young man, Abraham Lincoln beached a flatboat along the Illinois and Michigan Canal in Lockport, IL. The waterway, which opened in 1848, created a hugely important transportation route spanning from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Lockport served as its headquarters.

It is at this site where Lincoln Landing — a spectacular open air museum and park — was opened on Feb. 12, 2009 by the Give Something Back Foundation and the Will County Historical Society to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.

IMG_3746The stone originally used in the park was insufficient to withstand the rigors of its public use and the elements. After several years of weighing options and materials, GSBF embarked on the extensive removal of three million pounds of eroded stone and reconstructed it with beautiful replacement material while making multiple enhancements to Lincoln Landing’s landscaping and accessibility. The resources utilized to bring the park back to its original splendor points to its rich history and relationship to the 16th President of the United States.

Lincoln was one of a group of state legislators who backed the canal as part of a package of internal improvements to boost trade and transportation. The Federal Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission later designated the site as one of its officially endorsed historic sites.

“The I&M canal was Lincoln’s greatest achievement as a state senator and his death train traveled on the train tracks bordering the east side of the park,” noted Steve Cardamone, executive director of the Give Something Back Foundation and coordinator of the Lincoln Landing renovation project.

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“Lincoln’s good friend William Gooding had his office at the top of the hill next to the park and it makes perfect sense to think that Lincoln would have traversed that very ground where his sculpture now sits. Lore has it that Sir Paul McCartney paid the Landing a visit during its construction in 2008 while he was driving Route 66 that year.”

The idea to commemorate Lockport’s connection to Abraham Lincoln came from Bob Carr, founder of the Give Something Back Foundation, Lockport resident and Lincoln history buff.

“It was Lincoln who had helped convince the Illinois legislature to found my hometown of Lockport,” wrote Bob Carr in his book Through the Fires. Carr dedicated Lincoln Landing on Lincoln’s 200th birthday.

“It was important to me that people in my hometown, especially the kids, knew that our little town had played a significant role in history,” added Carr.

IMG_3749More glorious than ever, the newly renovated park features a pedestrian bridge over the canal, a bike path and many multiple species of plants. The Gaylord Building, a stone’s throw from the I&M Canal, anchors the north end of the park. The focal point is a statue showing three Lincolns, one sitting pensively, one standing and one walking. Brooklyn sculptor David Ostro designed the statue, which he described as “a young man in motion.”

Bronze medallions featuring historical information are placed all about the park to educate young and experienced visitors alike. Each medallion then leads to another to connect the visitor to the space and the people who helped make Lincoln Landing a unique place.