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Lincoln Carved by Mysterious Hobo

Field review by the editors.

Conkling, Kentucky

Abe Lincoln never came to Conkling, but Granville Johnson did.

Granville was a peddler with a backpack and nothing else. He was 70 years old (so he said) and sick and in need of shelter. This was in 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression. A local farm family, the Williams', took him in. As he recovered his strength, Granville would take a hammer and chisel and climb the hill behind the Williams' farm, day after day, mysteriously.

At summer's end, Granville unveiled for his hosts a thank-you gift -- a life-size, six-foot-four-inch relief sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, standing in an archway holding a book (either a law book or the Bible), cut into the flat side of a large sandstone boulder near the hill's summit. Granville claimed that he was an Italian sculptor and then wandered out of town, never to be seen again.

Lonely Lincoln has stood unchanged ever since, and Conkling is almost as remote and rural as it was when he was carved. The town hopes to place a plexiglass box over the sculpture, someday, and cut steps into the hillside so that Abe can get more visitors.

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Lincoln Carved by Mysterious Hobo

6809 KY-846, Conkling, KY
Drive south of town on KY-11. Turn right at the bridge onto KY-846. Drive eight-tenths of a mile (go past first road on the left, then a white house). On the left you'll see a small street sign for Abraham Lincoln Trail. Turn left. Drive across the concrete bridge and up to the top of the hill, a steep and rocky road. Park to the left, away from the house. To your left, when you pull up to the house behind the shed, walk up the large bank and you'll see a small road that leads up to the summit, steep, usually weed-choked and/or muddy. Walk 500 feet up to the top.
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