Abraham Lincoln and the Talisman
Image Courtesy of Elaine Shemoney Evans
The marker is located at the rest area on I-55, northbound lanes, northeast of Springfield. It is just south of the bridge over the Sangamon River.
Division of Highways and The Illinois State Historical Society
Prior to the coming of the railroads, Springfield was handicapped by inadequate transportation facilities. Early in 1832, Vincent A. Bogue, Springfield businessman and promoter, planned to supply the Sangamon River region with steamboat service. He chartered the Talisman, a 150-ton upper cabin steamer 136 feet long with a 48 foot beam, and obtained cargo in Cincinnati. On February 5 the journey began down the Ohio River, up the Mississippi to St. Louis, on to the Illinois, up to Beardstown, and via the Sangamon to the Springfield area.
Springfield citizens were enthusiastic and had raised funds to aid the project. At New Salem, Abraham Lincoln and others joined the axmen who were to clear the Sangamon of obstructions. The Talisman arrived at Beardstown March 9 and, after a 4-day delay due to ice, began the 100-mile trip up the Sangamon. When they arrived at Portland Landing, three fourths of a mile east of here, on March 24 crowds greeted them and continued the celebration in Springfield for several days. Rowan Herndon was hired as pilot and Lincoln as assistant pilot for the return trip to Beardstown. Since the Sangamon was falling rapidly, the steamboat had to be backed partway downstream and at New Salem a section of the dam was removed to float the boat across.
When the boat reached Beardstown, Lincoln received $40 dollars for his services from March 13 to April 6 and walked back to New Salem. The Talisman venture was financially unsuccessful and hopes for a river port near Springfield were eventually abandoned.
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