World's Largest Covered Wagon and Big Lincoln

Field review by the editors.

Lincoln, Illinois

Although the World's Largest Covered Wagon and Big Lincoln has the in-your-face zest of a 1950s Route 66 attraction, it's a 21st century arrival, unveiled on Veterans Day 2001.

Big Lincoln.
Big Lincoln.

The big wagon was built by David Bentley in what he said was a burst of patriotism. For six years it sat on his property -- which was not on Route 66 -- and when he put it up for sale in 2007, it was bought by Larry Van Bibber of Lincoln, who gave it to the city and placed the wagon in its current spot adjacent to the Mother Road.

In 2010 Readers Digest named the Wagon and Lincoln the No. 1 Roadside Attraction in the entire U.S. (If they had asked us instead of letting a blindfolded intern make the selection, we'd have said it was great, but not that great).

The covered wagon is built out of five tons of oak, with wheels 12 feet high -- the wagon is capable of rolling -- and the tops of its canvas-covered hoops are 24 feet high. It's a natural wind catcher and its hoops are sometimes stripped of canvas. The wagon was badly damaged in a January 2014 wind storm, but the city had it repaired by late April for fear it would lose its Guinness World Record certification.

The big Abe Lincoln was not built by David Bentley; it was built by F.A.S.T. Corp. in Sparta, Wisconsin. Abe is 12 feet tall and sits stiffly upright on the wagon, holding a book titled "LAW" in big letters in front of his face. He's instantly recognizable with his full beard and stovepipe hat, even though Lincoln only sported that look when he was President, not when he was sitting on wagons and reading books in Illinois 35 years earlier.

World's Largest Wagon sans cover.
World's Largest Wagon sans cover.

Signs around the landmark caution, "Climbing on Wagon is Prohibited" and, "Not responsible for Accidents." These are the laws of this attraction. Abe Lincoln would've respected them.

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World's Largest Covered Wagon and Big Lincoln

Best Western

Address:
1750 5th St., Lincoln, IL
Directions:
I-55 exit 126, east to Lincoln Pkwy/Route 66, then south a quarter-mile. On the right, in front of the Best Western.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

The Mill: Route 66 MuseumThe Mill: Route 66 Museum, Lincoln, IL - < 1 mi.
Old Neon: Tropics Dining RoomOld Neon: Tropics Dining Room, Lincoln, IL - < 1 mi.
Tiny ChurchTiny Church, Lincoln, IL - 1 mi.
In the region:
Cozy Dog Drive In: Birthplace of Hot Dog on a Stick, Springfield, IL - 30 mi.

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