The American dream is that you can come from the most humble of beginnings and rise to become the most powerful man in our country. No one exemplifies this most than our 16th president Abraham Lincoln.

Born in rural Kentucky near Hodgenville into a farming family with a one room log cabin in 1809 no one knew the greatness he was destined for. He only lived for a short time in the cabin where he was born before moving a few miles east to Knob Creek and then on to Indiana when his father Thomas believed he, a poor dirt farmer, could not compete with more prosperous slave plantations in the area. Abraham grew up in a life of hard work and with little formal education and taught himself to read and write. While working on riverboats he was introduced to the South’s “peculiar institution” and grew to loath it.

Lincoln taught himself enough about the law to pass the Illinois bar exam and his blend of common sense and humor made him popular on the local circuit. He spent time in the Illinois legislature and was elected for one term to the US Congress. He had his sights set higher and ran for the US Senate and his series of debates against Stephen Douglas became famous all across the nation. Lincoln, representing the new Republican Party, lost the election but there was a consolation prize. His fame got his name submitted at the Republican presidential convention in 1860 and you could say the rest is history.

Lincoln’s birthplace has been preserved as part of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Kentucky. Two cabins are on the properties, one near the site where he was born and another at Knob Creek where he spent his first few years. Since Lincoln was not famous after moving away the cabins were modified and eventually fell into disrepair. In 1894 a speculator purchased the land and the cabins were torn down to restore them to their young Lincoln-era appearance. Unfortunately not many tourists were coming to rural Kentucky so it was decided to take them on tour to the people. While on tour the disassembled logs were intermixed with each other and with logs from other cabins in the area including ironically from future Confederate president Jefferson Davis who also was born in rural Kentucky.

Wanting to bring people and their tourist dollars back to Kentucky the Lincoln Farm Association decided to reassemble the cabins, first in Louisville and later in their original locations. By that point though it was doubtful that any of the wood was original to their specific cabin. A large monument was constructed at the birthplace to house one of the cabins but it was found that the interior did not allow visitors to walk around the cabin, so the cabin was made smaller to fit the interior. The other cabin was reconstructed at Knob Creek. Today when visitors come to see the park the cabins they are looking at are made of reclaimed wood. There are more uses for reclaimed wood than just flooring!