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Bloomington-Normal – Gateway to the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area
Officials from the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition (LFL) – Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area (ALNHA) will join executive director of the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (BNCVB) and area officials to announce that Bloomington-Normal has been designated one of six official Gateway Communities to the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.  The Gateway Communities include Alton, Quincy, Danville, Springfield, and Charleston.  In each of the Gateways, visitors to the Heritage Area will find a visitor friendly place to get information about what to do, where to stay, and places to see.  From the Gateway Communities, travelers are encouraged to explore the ALNHA and its other nearby communities.

On Tuesday, September 27, at 10:00 a.m. at the McLean County Museum of History, in addition to formally announcing the Gateways, Looking for Lincoln will also announce the new ALNHA highway signage program.  In its first phase, 12 new highway signs will be located near the borders of the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Areas. Crystal Howard says, “the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is pleased to be designated a Gateway for the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.  The new signage will attract visitors into our communities and with all the attractions we have to offer we look forward to giving them a memorable experience.”

 According to Jeanie Cooke, “Bloomington- Normal is very proud to be a Gateway Community to the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area and these signs are a great step toward continuing to let people know about us.  We’re part of a major effort to show the world that the ALNHA is a tremendous travel destination with an important story to share – the life and times of Abraham Lincoln.”

Designed by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the signs are similar to those scattered throughout the US denoting National Forests and National Parks. Located along both State and Federal highways, the signs outline the boundaries of the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area to let travelers know they have entered a federally designated heritage area.  According to Looking for Lincoln Executive Director, Sarah Watson, these signs are the culmination of a two-year effort between Looking for Lincoln and IDOT. 

Watson stated, “Now, when visitors travel on our highways entering the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, they’ll know they are in the midst of an area that is identified as being significant to the history and heritage of our country. It reminds both our visitors and our residents that this 42-county region represents an important chapter in our national story. ”  Watson went on to thank IDOT Deputy Director, Rich Brauer, and IDOT engineer, Kyle Armstrong, for their support in making this happen.  “These guys, and the staff at IDOT, worked closely with us to find the best locations and to design and install signs that would meet all of the Federal and State highway signage guidelines.”  The signs are being placed near key rest areas around the heritage area so that visitors after seeing the signs will be able to stop and pick up information about the ALNHA and its many communities, sites and attractions. 

Looking for Lincoln and its partner communities are working on future plans to eventually include directional road signage and welcome signage for designated Looking for Lincoln communities throughout the ALNHA.

The Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition is the coordinating entity for the 42-county Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.  It is a partnership of organizations and individuals dedicated to enhancing and helping to promote the communities, landscapes and people of central Illinois whose natural, cultural and historical legacies helped to shape the man who would become President Abraham Lincoln.  For more information about the Looking for Lincoln and the National Heritage Area, visit www.lookingforlincoln.com.