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Record-holding Ill. covered wagon to be repaired

By: The Associated Press
February 3, 2014 Updated: February 3, 2014 at 9:30 am
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LINCOLN, Ill. (AP) — 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.

At the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County, officials are getting ready to repair the covered wagon in Lincoln along Old US Route 66, that, despite its 10,000 pounds, was nearly toppled over by winds that reached and estimated 50 mph on Jan. 26.

Nancy Saul, the interim director of the bureau, said her phone started ringing early on Jan. 27 from people wanting to help out with the repairs of the wagon that is, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world's largest covered wagon.

She said the bureau is poised to fix it. "We are already preparing proposals and we do have insurance on it," she 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. But 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 done 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 was once recognized as the No. 1 roadside attraction in America by Reader's Digest magazine.

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.

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