Americana: Apt Abe Prophecy

In the land of Lincoln, honoring Abe is not just good politics, it's good business. Or so thought 22 entrepreneurs in Charleston, Ill., scene of the fourth Lincoln-Douglas debate. In 1969 the businessmen enthusiastically erected what they claim is the world's largest statue of Lincoln—62 ft. of fiber glass and steel that cost $40,000—on a site three miles out of town near land they hoped would become a national park.

But plans for the park fell through, and Abe was left in the middle of nowhere. On an average day, about 50 tourists would visit the statue and buy souvenir postcards and...

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