ELIZABETHTOWN — Tim Walker is hoping the interest in Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday will translate into a tourism spike for the area's Civil War sites.
Walker, a member of Elizabethtown's City Council, is a part of a committee working with the Kentucky Historical Society to promote Civil War sites in and around Hardin County with the hope of luring people who visit Central Kentucky for Lincoln's bicentennial birthday.
Lincoln was born Feb. 12, 1809, in a small cabin at Sinking Spring farm near what became Hodgenville. Two years later, a land dispute led the family to move a few miles away to Knob Creek farm, where young Abe formed his earliest memories. The family lived there until 1816, when they moved to Indiana. Lincoln later moved to Illinois.
As tourists come to Kentucky to see Lincoln's birthplace, Walker said, maybe they'll venture out to see the battlefield sites of the war Lincoln oversaw and ended.
While the area lacks a battlefield along the lines of Gettysburg or Bull Run, it's dotted with the sites of smaller skirmishes between the Union and Confederacy.
The problem, Walker said, is few seem to be aware of the battlefields.
"We need to do a better job of getting the story out," Walker told The News Enterprise.
The group and the Kentucky Historical Society plan to install markers at the sites and create a map for motorists who want to visit them, Walker said.
The Hardin County History Museum also received a $1,000 grant to help make a documentary about Gen. John Hunt Morgan's 1862 Christmas raid on Elizabethtown.
Morgan became known in Central Kentucky for his railroad attacks.
Along with Morgan, Central Kentucky was known for its Confederate sympathies and guerrillas who worked with the South, despite Lincoln's family claim on the area, history museum spokeswoman Susan McCrobie said.
Allegiance, however, did not stop the guerrillas from stealing and plundering from supporters of both sides, McCrobie said.
"They had no law and order," she said.
To help tell those stories, the museum plans to install an interactive sign outside its building. Users will push buttons along a map, and the sign will talk about what happened there.
The museum hopes to have it up in time for the tourist season next summer, McCrobie said.