Alton has been designated one of six official Illinois Gateway Communities in the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.
An official announcement of the designation will be made at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Alton City Hall, 101 E. Third St.
Officials from the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition will join Alton Mayor Brant Walker and Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau President/CEO Brett Stawar for the announcement.
The Gateway Communities include Bloomington-Normal, Quincy, Danville, Springfield and Charleston. In each of the towns, visitors to the Heritage Area will find a 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 Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area and nearby communities.
“It is appropriate for Alton to be named a Gateway Area,” Stawar said. “With our historic ties to Abraham Lincoln, we are uniquely positioned to continue to share the Lincoln legacy with visitors across the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.”
In addition to formally announcing the Gateways, Looking for Lincoln also announced the new heritage area highway signage program. In its first phase, 12 new highway signs have been located near the borders of the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.
“These signs are a great step toward continuing to let people know about us,” Looking for Lincoln-Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area Executive Director Sarah Watson said.
Designed by the Illinois Department of Transportation, the signs are similar to those denoting national forests and parks. They outline the boundaries of the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area to let travelers know they have entered a federally designated heritage area. The signs are the culmination of a two-year effort between Looking for Lincoln and IDOT.
“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,” Watson said. “It reminds both our visitors and our residents that this 42-county region represents an important chapter in our national story. ”
Watson thanked 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 have been placed near key rest areas around the heritage area so visitors, after seeing the signs, will be able to pick up information about the heritage area and its many communities, sites and attractions.
Watson said Looking for Lincoln and its partner communities are working on plans to include directional road signage and welcome signs for designated Looking for Lincoln communities.
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 shape the nation’s 16th president.