Published on : Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Since its release in November the Steven Spielberg movie LINCOLN, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and filmed entirely in Virginia, has generated a buzz unlike almost any other history-based movie in recent memory. With 12 Academy Award nominations and a box office gross exceeding $150 million the film is a certified blockbuster in every sense of the word.
One Hundred Fifty years earlier Abraham Lincoln himself visited some of the very locations later used in the movie. In fact, Lincoln was often in Virginia during his presidency, reviewing troops and conferring with his generals. That means Virginia is the only place where visitors can walk in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln at sites across the Commonwealth as well as those of the cast and crew of the LINCOLN movie along the Lincoln Movie Trail.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” Today’s Virginia visitors can put their feet literally where Lincoln placed his 150 years ago. The places that Lincoln visited are filled with excellent restaurants, cool hotels, arts, festivals, cultural events and fun things to do such as the following:
Fairfax County – Bailey’s Crossroads.
In 1861 Lincoln conducted his first great review of the Union army – more than 50,000 men occupying 200 acres of rolling farmland surrounding a country crossroads. Today’s Fairfax booms with commerce. Tyson’s Corner has more than 500 shops and restaurants in an area easily covered on foot. George Washington’s Mount Vernon is another top attraction along with the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Fairfax is also home to the country’s only national park for the performing arts – Wolf Trap.
In May 1862 Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton visited Union troops stationed here. Lincoln met with the Union commander at Chatham Manor, now National Park Service offices, making it the only house to be visited by Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. His party then made its way through downtown, pausing at the Farmers Bank Building, which is among the many Civil War-eras building still standing in Fredericksburg. Fredericksburg remains a thriving small city with a downtown full of wonderful shopping, dining and lodging. Nearby major Civil War battlefields draw history buffs from around the world, while culinary enthusiasts will find local wineries, breweries and a distillery open for tours and tastings.
Hampton – Fort Monroe
Completed in 1834, Fort Monroe is the largest stone masonry fort ever built in America. The fort remained in Union hands throughout the Civil War and earned the name “Freedom’s Fortress” as a place of refuge for escaping slaves. In May 1862 Lincoln spent several days at “Quarters #1” which still stands within the fort’s enclosure. In February 1865, on a ship anchored just off Fort Monroe, Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward met with Confederate officials in an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate an end to the war – a key scene in the LINCOLN movie. The fort is now a unit of the National Park Service. At nearby Hampton University visitors can stand beneath “Emancipation Oak,” site of the first public reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in the South. Hampton hosts some of Virginia’s favorite festivals and offers plenty of good lodging options. Modern shopping and dining can be found at the thriving Peninsula Town Center.
Berkeley Plantation – Charles City County
Lincoln called on Union general George McClellan here in July 1862 at the conclusion of the Seven Days Battles. While the army rested here a Union general and his bugler wrote the famous bugle call “Taps.” Berkeley is the birthplace of President William Henry Harrison and today offers visitors an excellent tour of the original 1726 Georgian mansion and spreading grounds. More plantations and period homes can be found along historic Route 5 as well as the Capital Bike Trail which will link Williamsburg and Richmond when completed