*This article appeared in Oct/Nov ’17 issue of Owensboro Living.
Many states and cities attempt to hang their hats on connections with President Abraham Lincoln, but few can tout tangible mementos as the Rockport Lincoln Pioneer Village and Museum can.
Village and Museum
Home to furniture handcrafted by Lincoln himself, and a realistic replica of his boyhood home, this village in Rockport, Ind. strives for an authentic pioneer experience through its various relics, architecture and volunteer performers.
“We just would like people to step back in time to see how it was, and feel how it was when pioneers were coming through Spencer County, Ind.,” said Co-Director Nancy Kaiser. “We really focus on Lincoln [being] here in Spencer County when he was here for 14 years.”
In addition to an extensive museum of antique relics from Lincoln’s time in Indiana and artifacts from both the Civil War and World War II, the location also features an immersive, miniaturized town with cabins of various form and function.
The Pioneer Village features 13 Lincoln-era replica cabins native to Spencer County such as the Pioneer Schoolhouse, the Lincoln Homestead Cabin, and the Old Pigeon Baptist Church. Thanks to the addition of a working fireplace this summer, the village can now have cooking demonstrations in the fireplace hearth that is realistic to the time period.
“Each cabin depicts a cabin that was in Spencer County during Lincoln’s time,” Kaiser said. “There are three cabins here [from Rockport]: the law office, the Browns Inn, and then a double-cabin. The rest are replicas of cabins which would’ve been in Lincoln City. They were built in the 1930s.”
Another section of the museum emphasizes Spencer County’s role in the movie “The Kentuckian,” which was partially filmed in Rockport and Owensboro. Guests can view memorabilia and photographs from the movie’s creation in the 1950s.
Still standing is also a building known as the transportation building, which was originally constructed as a tobacco barn for the movie “The Kentuckian,” but now serves as a display for the village’s hearse, carriages and wagons.
Lincoln Heritage Days
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 28 and 29, the village will be hosting its twice-annual Lincoln Heritage Days, during which interpreters will be on-site and in-character to perform demonstrations, cook food using pioneer-style cooking methods, and assist children in making candles.
The village and museum is also home to a functioning, antique weaving loom, one of the less than 100 still in existence. Guests will have a rare opportunity to watch the loom in use.
Admission charges for the event are $5 for adults, and $3 for children 12 and under, as well as seniors 50 and over. Any guests in costume enter free of charge.
“Guys will be cooking on an open fire, kids will be making candles, there will be music on one of the porches, so plenty of entertainment,” Kaiser said. “It just bustles with the kids and people in costume. It makes [the village] look completely different.
Lincoln Pioneer Village is open daily from 9 am – 5pm May through October. It is located at the west end of Main Street at 928 Fairground Drive in Rockport, Indiana, 47635.