2019 New Salem Candlelight Walk 

New Salem Candlelight Tour, October 4, 2019

The golden glow of lanterns stood perched along the same paths that Abraham Lincoln walked in his youth, while thousands of visitors carry their homemade lanterns. Here at Lincoln’s New Salem near Petersburg, people meandered from cabin to cabin as lines spilled out onto the trails where volunteers in period costumes waited to tell the story of who they were. The chill of autumn drifted past the houses and kids laughed while holding warm cider and gingerbread. People were able to learn firsthand about the Lincoln-Rutledge romance as well as how Lincoln was a magnificent storyteller at the local store. The candlelight tour hosted about 15,000 visitors over the course of the three days, and it offers the perfect autumn event that fully encompasses history as well a family friendly beginning of the Halloween season.

Different shops were open that offered several different demonstrations of surviving the frontier. There was a blacksmith, a whittler, a storekeeper, and weavers showing their talents to represent the daily life of the pioneers. People flocked to the different houses to watch. Some visitors had traveled across the country to see a reproduction of one of Lincoln’s homes before he became the President of the United States. This is one of the few events where visitors can feel as though they have been transported to the times of usable fireplaces and covered wagons. It is a wonderful chance to experience New Salem in an unusual setting and learn about Lincoln’s early years as well as the stories of those who pioneered the Sangamon Country. It is a wonderful experience that allows for quality family time as well as soaking in local history.

–Katie Brethorst