Had it not been for John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln would have turned 200 in 2009; heck, he could’ve starred in his own biopic, though he probably would have turned the offer down in some funny, self-deprecating way. It’s not every day that a beloved president reaches his bicentennial, so the state of Illinois – the Land of Lincoln – played the birthday up big, and tied into an ongoing effort to promote Lincoln-related tourism. Lots of towns promoted events or historic sites connected to the Great Emancipator, some more plausibly than others, but as far as I’m concerned the town of Lockport outdid them all. Their Lincoln statue has the most heads. Three of ’em, in fact.
Lockport marked the Lincoln Bicentennial with the opening of Lincoln Landing, a small park just off the downtown area that explores Lincoln’s connection to the hugely important Illinois and Michigan Canal. According to the historic plaques, Lincoln was one of a group of state legislators who backed the canal as part of a package of internal improvements to boost trade and transportation. Lockport was construction HQ.
But why three heads? Technically they’re interlocking portraits; according to sculptor David Ostro, the first Lincoln is reaching into the ground where canal water used to run. The second Lincoln is trying to get up and the third one is standing – suggesting movement and growth. Lincolns 2 and 3, by the way, are each holding what Ostro calls a “mysterious object.” This is meant to be mysterious to get viewers thinking, though I’m pretty convinced it’s a fourth head.