Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park and Memorial has significant historical interest in being the first home of Abraham Lincoln in Illinois.
The Thomas Lincoln family moved from Indiana and erected a homestead, west of Decatur, Illinois along the Sangamon River in Macon County in 1830. This plot on the high north side of the Sangamon River was excellent farmland, but illness and an extremely harsh winter, known as the “Winter of the Deep Snow”, prompted Thomas and Sarah to move to Coles County after only one year. At this time, Abraham Lincoln began to seek a life of his own and moved to New Salem and later to Springfield, Illinois. A marker was erected by the Decatur chapter of the D.A.R. in 1904 showing the approximate area Lincoln’s first home was built.
The abandoned Lincoln farmstead was later settled by the Whitley family, who lived at the site for several generations. The Whitley’s built a dam across the Sangamon River to power a small mill. The park contains the Whitley’' pioneer cemetery; and the remains of the mill dam on the Sangamon River. The park was formally dedicated in 1957.
The park contains mature upland and bottomland timber. An American Linden tree considered to be over 300 years old would have been there in Lincoln's time. The uplands include mature Black Walnut trees and many species of oak, hickory as well as Redbud, Dogwood, and Pawpaw in the understory. Large Cottonwood, Sycamore, and Silver Maple dominate the bottomland timber. Wildflowers abound including Bluebells, Larkspur, and Wild Ginger.
An Illinois Department of Natural Resources 2003 inventory of the Lower Sangamon River valley reveals that “diverse habitats and largely rural landscape provide homes or rest areas for nearly every species of bird found in Illinois.” All but one of 300 bird species found in Illinois, 30 of which are listed by the state as threatened or endangered have been spotted in the area. Eighty percent of the state’s mammals can be found in this area as well as almost half its plants and reptiles.