Hodgenville, Kentucky

Forever commemorated as the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, Hodgenville is a unique American town that traces its early roots to the post-Revolutionary United States. The seat of LaRue County, Kentucky, Hodgenville, is situated on the North Fork of Nolin River and is considered a part of the Elizabethtown metropolitan area.

Geography And Climate Of Hodgenville 

Abraham Lincoln Memorial in Rural Kentucky at Site of President's Birth
Abraham Lincoln Memorial in Hodgenville.

Situated in central LaRue County, Hodgenville is 19 km (12 miles) southeast of Elizabethtown in the valley of North Fork, a tributary of the Green River; Hodgenville is also 39 km (24 miles) northeast of the “Bourbon Capital of Kentucky,” Bardstown.

With a total area of 2.1 square miles, the town has a population of just under 3,300, according to 2019 estimates. 86 % of the town identified as White, 11% African American, and the remaining 3% comprises Hispanic, Asian, and other races. The median age in the town is 41 years old.

With hot and humid summers, and mildly cool winters, Hodgenville is classified as having a humid subtropical climate; average daily summer highs are 26 C (78 F), with highs of 6 C (42 F) in the winter. July is typically the hottest month of the year, while January is the coldest, occasionally reaching temperatures as low as -5 C (23 F).The wet season is approximately five months, from mid-March to August; in this period, there is a greater than 33% chance of rainfall on any given day. May is considered Hodgenville’s wettest month, with an average of 13 days with at least one millimeter of precipitation.

History Of Hodgenville

Statue of President Abraham Lincoln in Hodgenville
Statue of President Abraham Lincoln sitting in chair in downtown Hodgenville. Editorial credit: Twin Oaks / Shutterstock.com

Just six years after the American Revolutionary War (1776-1783), Pennsylvania-born settler Robert Hodgen purchased 10,000 acres of land in Central Kentucky and built a mill on the site of today’s Hodgenville. Within three years, Kentucky would officially enter the Union, and more and more settlers began to migrate west.

The small mill community that would become Hodgenville grew modestly in the first years of the 19th century, and by the time of Hodgen’s death in 1810, the settlement had a few hundred inhabitants. Upon petition of Hodgen’s widow and children, the site was officially named Hodgenville and formally incorporated by the Kentucky State Assembly in 1836.It was in this small but growing settlement that a poor family welcomed a son born into a humble log cabin. The date was February 12, 1809, and as Thomas and Nancy Lincoln held their new baby boy, Abraham, they were unaware of the great importance the infant would have in the history of the United States.Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Hodgenville maintained its small, close-knit community feel and today remains a picturesque example of small-town America. 

Attractions In Hodgenville

The legacy of Abraham Lincoln is Hodgenville’s main tourist theme, and there are indeed numerous sites and buildings dedicated to the 16th President throughout town.

Amongst the most prominent is the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, first established in 1916; the 344-acre park houses the Memorial Building, a neo-classical temple built in 1909 to commemorate Lincoln’s centennial. The 56 steps leading up to the building represent Lincoln’s age, while a replica of the log cabin he was born in is on display inside.

From there, visitors can take a short trek to Knob Creek Farm, where the young Lincoln spent several of his childhood years before embarking on his legal and political career in Illinois.

Lincoln Memorial Hodgenville
Log cabin inside the first Lincoln Memorial building at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park. Editorial credit: Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

In the heart of Downtown Hodgenville Historic District, the President’s memory is further commemorated at the Lincoln Museum. Founded in 1989, the museum is a 5 km (3 miles) ride from the Historical Park. It features period artifacts, life-sized dioramas, and a unique wax figure collection that bring elements of Abraham Lincoln’s life to striking realism. In the museum gallery, visitors can further enjoy an impressive collection of civil war memorabilia and a replica of Lincoln’s funeral train.In the town’s main square, be sure to stop by the two statues of Lincoln, one as a child and the other as an adult, and pose with the man who gave his life to save the Union.

Although most of Hodgenville’s tourist sites are orientated towards the figure of Abraham Lincoln, the man and President, visitors can still find a variety of locally-owned restaurants and small markets that bring all the charm of Kentucky. They can enjoy some fine bourbon from the town of Bardstown, just a 30-minute drive away, or take in a traditional Kentucky Bluegrass music concert at any of the quaint music venues in town.

Hodgenville, Kentucky, can indeed give the appearance of the stereotypical “Anytown, USA,” but its unique location in the state and its indelible ties to Abraham Lincoln make it a definite point of attraction. For those who love American history or just want to get a feel of small-town Kentucky, then Hodgenville is the perfect spot to get it all.

Share