LINCOLN – A winter that has caused people to fall on the icy sidewalks and left cars stranded in snow drifts now has another victim: the world's largest covered wagon.
Officials at the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County are getting ready to repair the covered wagon along Old US Route 66 in Lincoln, a town named for the 16th president.
The wagon, hand-built out of oak and Illinois oak and steel by David Bentley of Pawnee in 2001, was bought by the tourism bureau in 2007 and brought to Lincoln. Despite its 10,000 pounds, the wagon was nearly toppled by winds that reached and estimated 50 mph on Jan. 26.
Nancy Saul, the bureau's interim director, said her phone started ringing early the next day with people wanting to help with the repairs to the landmark that the Guinness Book of World Records deems the world's largest covered wagon.
"We are already preparing proposals and we do have insurance on it," Saul said of the 40-foot-long, 12-foot-wide wagon.
The winds did a number on the wagon. Not only is it nearly on its side, but Saul said one wheel was destroyed, another broken, the wagon box was damaged and the cover was torn up. One part of the wagon that wasn't damaged was the 12-foot fiberglass Abe Lincoln sitting up front.
"Surprisingly, Abe made it through in pretty good shape," said Saul. "He is at a tilt, but still holding and reading his book." And his famous stovepipe hat remains firmly on his head.
Saul said she's not sure exactly when the wagon will be fixed, only that it will be soon.
"We just know we have to move as quickly as we can because it is really the centerpiece for our advertising and our tourism," she said.
In fact, the wagon is so popular that it once was recognized as the No. 1 roadside attraction in America by Reader's Digest magazine.