Follow Abraham Lincoln to Great Virginia Getaways This Spring- Encounter the real Abraham Lincoln and Steven Spielberg's LINCOLN only in Virginia -
RICHMOND, Va. (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:
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.
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.
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.
In June 1864 Union general Ulysses S. Grant established headquarters here at the confluence of the James and Appomattox Rivers. During the closing months of the war Abraham Lincoln was a frequent visitor here, making his evening quarters aboard the boat River Queen. City Point and Grant's headquarters are now part of Petersburg National Military Park and sit within the city limits of Hopewell. Nearby is a neighborhood of Sears pattern book homes built in the 1920s and ‘30s and the 1841 St. John's Episcopal Church.
Petersburg was one of the Confederacy's vital rail centers and became the focus of Union war efforts in 1864. When the city finally fell after nine months of fighting Lincoln soon made his way from City Point and into Virginia's "Cockade City" on April 3rd, 1865. He was met by his son Robert, an officer on Grant's staff, and together they rode through the scene of the previous day's fighting. Lincoln was visibly affected the bodies of Union and Confederate soldiers still lying where they fell. Meeting Grant at the Wallace House, today a private residence, Lincoln's mood turned to one of elation with the realization that the war would soon be over. An onlooker remarked that it was the happiest he ever saw Lincoln. On April 7th, 1865, Lincoln returned to Petersburg with his wife Mary, their son Tad, other Union officials and Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker and confidant Elizabeth Keckley, who had been a slave in the area before the war. The party visited Centre Hill Mansion, today open to the public for tours. Lincoln and his family arrived at a railroad station that day in what is now called "Olde Town Petersburg," a principal film location for the LINCOLN movie. Visitors will find a wonderful selection of cafés, restaurants and coffee shops (some of which were frequented by the movie cast and crew), antique stores, museums and historic buildings seen both by Abraham Lincoln and those who have seen the movie.
With the fall of Petersburg on April 2nd, 1865, Richmond's fate was sealed. Union troops entered the Capital of the Confederacy on April 2nd - and Abraham Lincoln was not far behind them. On April 4th Lincoln and his son Tad boated up the James River and with a small entourage came ashore just below downtown. From there they walked through growing throngs of cheering newly-freed former slaves to the former residence of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, in use as Union garrison headquarters. It is said that Lincoln entered the house and sat pensively in a small vestibule Davis had used as an office. The house is open to visitors as part of the Museum and White House of the Confederacy. From there he and his son toured other parts of Richmond by carriage including the Virginia State Capitol before returning downriver to City Point. The Capitol itself was used at length by Steven Spielberg as a film location as portions of the building were used to portray both the United States Capitol and the exterior of the White House. The scenes of heated Congressional debate over the 13th Amendment were filmed in the chamber of Virginia's House of Delegates. Free guided tours of the historic building are offered daily. Richmond itself is one of the South's most vibrant cities and is an emerging major player in the restaurant scene. Performing arts centers attract top headlining acts while smaller clubs are packed on weekends. Carytown is one of the mid-Atlantic coolest eclectic shopping and dining districts and excellent hotels abound throughout the city. The James River is a major playground for paddling and tubing enthusiasts and in fact Richmond is the only city in America with Class V water rapids.
Steven Spielberg, in choosing Virginia as the place to film LINCOLN, said, "Virginia's rich historic legacy, coupled with the remarkable period architecture found in Richmond and Petersburg, make Central Virginia the ideal location for this production." Those same things make Virginia the perfect destination for travelers who love history, movies and unforgettable good times.
To walk in the famous footsteps of Lincoln in Virginia - both the man and the movie - plan a trip by visiting www.Virginia.org/Lincoln. Filming locations of Steven Spielberg's LINCOLN along with restaurants and hotels favored by cast and crew are pinpointed on the Lincoln Movie Trail interactive map with details on special Lincoln tours - afoot, by Segway and onboard a trolley - also available. For full travel planning resources visit www.Virginia.org or call 1-800-VISITVA for a free 2013 Virginia is for Lovers Travel Guide.
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