There had been some disagreement between Lyn and myself about the
enjoyment of my little hobby. For a period, she was uncooperative
with me in pursuing it. As such, I acquired no sites for fifteen
months. I eventually changed jobs, relocating to a company in Salt
Lake City, Utah. I would need to travel from Detroit to Salt Lake
twice. Once in "my car" by myself to start my job,
then again in the "family car" with the Lyn and
Jesse when the Michigan house finally sold. In the process of moving
to Utah, my interest was raised in the history of the Latter-Day
Saints (LDS or "Mormon" church), my new Utah neighbors. I
decided to drive myself reasonably directly from Detroit to Salt
Lake, with one slight detour to Springfield, IL (Lincoln) and to pass
through West Branch, IA (Herbert Hoover). I would also stop in
Nauvoo, IL to see the place where LDS founder Joseph Smith was martyred.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN - Springfield, IL
21st in my collection (1st of 2 in trip)
Click to see
is buried in a very large public cemetery, but finding his tomb is
not a difficult task. His resting place, like many others, includes a
large land set-aside (maybe like a modern "greenbelt") and
the marker is actually a huge obelisk over a small marble building
From a distance it resembles a simple grave marker, until you realize
the distance you are from it. As you approach, the structure
continues to grow until you realize it is HUGE! The area resembling
the base, is actually a circular two-story building. Matching marble
staircases grant access to the round plaza area beneath the obelisk
structure. The obelisk is itself huge in both height and mass. But
surrounding it are huge statues of Lincoln, and of galloping horses,
all larger than life size. The statuary point off in the four compass
directions, so are strikingly visible from any direction.
to the small building includes a room honoring the fallen president,
and a small hallway that proceeds in a square pattern. At the far
side (after two hallway turns), is a small room, resembling a side
alter in a cathedral. It is dark and stately (but for once not dank
or creepy) and lit indirectly through stained glass windows.
President Lincoln's remains are entombed somehow in a large marble
structure (a cenotaph) that, for once, did not resemble a simple
"coffin sleeve". It was a reddish brown marble, and while
six to eight feet long and two to three feet wide, it tapered upward
to a height of five feet. I could not exactly imagine the exact
arrangement of his remains, whether they were within a secret
compartment or in the ground beneath the entire structure. Engraved
on the side was the simple notation "Abraham Lincoln".
HERBERT HOOVER - West Branch, IA
22nd in my collection (2nd of 2 in trip)
Click to see
After visiting Nauvoo, to see the Mormon history sites, I drove up to
Ames, Iowa and backtracked one exit east on I-80 to West Branch.
Herbert Hoover is buried on his family estate, with the house, once
again, converted to a museum with memorabilia and period furnishings.
With miles to go before I slept, I skipped the house and tooled right
out back to the grave site.
Hoover is buried above ground in a large white marble vault next to
a matching one for his wife. I find that oversized vaults like these
do not immediately cause you to visualize a coffin and corpse and
other macabre stuff, and are therefore tasteful, touching, and even
lead to quiet mediation.
The Hoovers rest in a large green area, with the backing semicircle
this time constructed of a high hedgerow. The lush green bushes and
the rich green grass (testaments to the rich Iowa soil beneath them)
were a thing of natural beauty. The place quickly evoked a feeling of
peace, tranquillity, and solitude.
That is until a semi-truck blasted his airhorn on I-80, which
unfortunately ran past the site, just twenty or so yards beyond the
hedgerow. Oh well, what it lacked in natural quiet, it made up for by
being, as the American adage goes, EZ-Off and EZ-On.
From Hoover, I drove myself west to Omaha, Denver, then eventually my
new home in Ogden, Utah. It would take six full months for our house
in Detroit to sell, and the buyer would materialize during the last
week-end in January. Our final trip from Detroit to Salt Lake, using
the family vehicle and accompanied by Lyn and Jesse, would depart in mid-west
February from a cold and blustery Michigan.
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