Sculptor Ed Hamilton with his statue of a young Abe Lincoln, who sits reading his law books.

Tucked away on a site overlooking the Ohio River and the Lincoln Bridge sits a young, clean-shaven Abe Lincoln, surrounded by bas relief panels that tell the story of his connections to Kentucky. The Lincoln Memorial at Waterfront Park, part of Kentucky’s Lincoln Heritage Trail, is located just west of the Big Four® Bridge and the Swing Garden, near the Lincoln Bridge.

Lincoln, created by sculptor Ed Hamilton, is an approachable figure sitting on a rock in a small amphitheater that faces the river. The bas reliefs, four large dimensional carved panels mounted along the path into the amphitheater, offer glimpses of different stages of Lincoln’s life, including his childhood in Kentucky, his political and social rise, the impact of the Civil War on Lincoln, his family, and the nation, and the roots of his abhorrence of slavery.

Writing to his friend Joshua Speed in 1855, Lincoln recalled their trip of August 1841
on the Ohio River, during which he saw a dozen enslaved African Americans being
transported to New Orleans: “That sight was a continual torment to me; and I see
something like it every time I touch the Ohio, or any other slave-border.” To others he
asked: “Can we, as a nation, continue together permanently – half slave, half free?”

The Lincoln Memorial at Waterfront Park is free and open to the public year-round during park hours, which are 6:00 a.m. through 11:00 p.m. daily. For more information, please visit our Lincoln Memorial page.