Visiting Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield, Illinois

Located on 12 1/2 acres in the sprawling Oak Ridge Cemetery on the north side of Springfield, Illinois, the Abraham Lincoln Tomb is both the final resting place of, and an impressive memorial to, the 16th President of the United States. Dedicated in 1874, the exterior of the structure is brick covered with granite, with a 117 foot tall obelisk rising out of the center of a rectangular base. Four bronze statues representing the army, navy, artillery, and cavalry services are located on the corners. A bronze statue of Lincoln is on a raised pedestal on the south side of the monument, which is also the side where the entrance to the interior of the tomb is located.

Visitors enter into a rotunda, which has hallways leading around the center to the north side and the location of  Abraham Lincoln’s burial chamber. The rotunda contains a scaled down reproduction of the Lincoln statue that is in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. The interior of the tomb is marble with bronze trim, and there are several more bronze sculptures along the hallways representing various events in Lincoln’s life. Lincoln’s burial chamber is marked with a large marble block of reddish granite. The president’s remains are approximately 30 inches behind the marker and 10 feet below the floor of the tomb. 

Lincoln’s coffin was  moved several times over the years and was nearly stolen and held for ransom in 1876. After the tomb was refurbished and repaired in 1901, Robert Todd Lincoln decided to end any chance of his father’s coffin being disturbed again. He had it placed in a steel cage and covered in concrete when it was reinterred at its current location.

Also within the tomb are the remains of Mary Lincoln and their sons Edward, Willie, and Thomas (Tad). Their crypts are across from and south of the President’s. Robert is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  

When Lincoln’s remains were brought to Springfield in May of 1865, his coffin was placed in the cemetery’s public receiving vault, located just north of the site of  the current Lincoln Tomb, where it resided until a temporary tomb was constructed. In December of 1865, the coffin was moved to the temporary tomb, and finally to the current tomb (which was still under construction) in 1871. The public receiving vault still exists, and the location of the temporary tomb, which was a little northeast of  current tomb, is marked with a granite marker.

The Abraham Lincoln Tomb is one of what I would call the Big Three Lincoln sites in Springfield, along with the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. All three are must sees for anyone interested in the 16th president. The Lincoln Tomb is an Illinois State Historic Site, and the interior is accessible to those with disabilities. For more information including the hours it is open, visit the Lincoln Tomb website.

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