Abraham Lincoln was reportedly haunted by visions and dreams throughout his life. In fact, it's said that he even dreamed of seeing himself lying in state in the East Room, just three days before his assassination. So it comes as no great surprise that Springfield, Illinois -- a town where Lincoln spent some of the happiest years of his life -- has a few ghostly haunts of its own. And the good news is, many of them are wheelchair-accessible.
Haunted Springfield Ghost Walk: There's no better way to get your feet wet ghost-wise in Springfield, than to join Garret Moffett on his excellent Lincoln's Ghost Walk (tel. 217/502-8687; www.springfieldwalks.com). This 90-minute walking tour covers a 12-block area, with stops at several Lincoln sites along the way. The route is level, with curb-cuts at every corner; and Garret spends about 15 minutes at each stop, so there's plenty of time to catch your breath.
The tour begins outside the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, which coincidentally boast a long history of mysterious happenings. Visitors to the building report hearing phantom footsteps on the stairway; while next door neighbors often complain about pipe smoke seeping through the walls. Although Lincoln often enjoyed smoking in his office, when these mysterious occurrences are investigated, all that's found is an empty building.
Other stops on Lincoln's Ghost Walk include the First Presbyterian Church, the Lincoln Home and the Lincoln Depot. The tour runs most nights at 7:30, and it's priced at just $12 per person.
Ghostly Sightings at Lincoln Home: Although a stop at the Lincoln Home (tel. 217/492-4241; www.nps.gov/liho) is included in Garret's tour, it's worth revisiting during the day to see the inside of the house. There's no charge to tour the home, but you must pick up a ticket at the Visitors Center. And depending on who you talk to, you'll probably also pick up a few ghost stories there.
Over the years there have been many usual occurrences at the home, which is thought to be haunted by Mary Todd Lincoln. A number of visitors have reported seeing her figure in the front window, while the mysterious clip-clop of horses hooves has been heard throughout the restored neighborhood.
Although there are steps at the front entrance of the house, there is a lift in back. Wheelchair-users can tour the first floor, which includes the two parlors, dining room, sitting room and kitchen. Access to the second floor is by stairway only, but a photo album is available for those who cannot make the climb. Still it's a great tour, with the majority of it being accessible.
Lincoln's Final Resting Place: Although experts disagree on whether or not Lincoln's Tomb is haunted, considering the history of his remains, it wouldn't surprise me if it was. As the result of an attempted theft of the Great Emancipator's body, it was moved 17 times before it was permanently interred in 1901; some 36 years after his death.
Reports of mysterious footfalls and voices in the tomb have surfaced over the years; but they could be attributed to overactive imaginations. Still, the long marble hallways can be creepy. The walls are filled with Lincoln quotes, and the hallways are dotted with reproductions of important Lincoln statues. It's all quite impressive.
There is level access to the tomb, with accessible parking just a short walk away. It's also a great site to get to on the accessible Historic Sites Bus, as the stop is close to the entrance. And like many Springfield Lincoln sites, there's no admission charge. Accessible, affordable and perhaps even haunted -- what else could you possibly want?
Candy Harrington is the editor of Emerging Horizons and the author of Barrier Free Travel: A Nuts and Bolts Guide For Wheelers and Slow Walkers. She blogs regularly about accessible travel issues at www.barrierfreetravels.com.