Lincoln and the River

Lincoln and the River (HM138L)

Location: Beardstown, IL 62618 Cass County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 1.118', W 90° 26.118'

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When Abraham Lincoln sought election to the Illinois legislature in 1832, his platform focused on his belief that improvements should be made to the Sangamon River, which he said would be "vastly important and highly desirable to the people of this county." Soon news arrived that the steamboat Talisman was bound for Illinois to demonstrate the Sangamon could be a river of commerce. Accompanied by New Salem and Springfield friends, Lincoln rushed to Beardstown. Armed with axes, corn knives and hooks, they cleared ice, snags, and low hanging branches at the mouth of the Sangamon. They boarded the Talisman for the trip to Portland Landing above Springfield. On the return journey, Lincoln served as the assistant to pilot J. Rowan Herndon. Lincoln lost the election, finishing eighth in a field of thirteen candidates. The Sangamon project was denied the advocacy of its most ardent supporter. By the time Lincoln was elected to the legislature in 1835, the railroad interests had the upper hand. Construction on the Northern Cross Railroad began in Meredosia in the spring of 1838.

Though Lincoln could not turn the Sangamon into a navigable waterway, he continued to support the development of waterways as arteries of commerce. One such venture was the Beardstown and Sangamon Canal. The canal would have paralleled the Sangamon. Beardstown stood to gain from such an enterprise, since river steamers would have transferred their cargoes, to canal boats at Beardstown, thus making the city a transportation hub. Lincoln pushed this project for a number of years, trying to force the canal through legislation. Despite the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in northern Illinois, Lincoln and his allies failed to secure state support, and private promotions were never able to raise the necessary funds to acquire land and begin construction. Beardstown's Canal Street is the lone reminder of the Beardstown and Sangamon Canal.

HM NumberHM138L
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 12th, 2014 at 6:52am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15T E 718875 N 4432976
Decimal Degrees40.01863333, -90.43530000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 1.118', W 90° 26.118'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 1' 7.08" N, 90° 26' 7.08" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 124 N State St, Beardstown IL 62618, US
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