Associated Press

ALTON, Ill. (AP) – Boosters of Abraham Lincoln-related tourism have designated Alton as a “Gateway Community” for enthusiasts.

The announcement was made Wednesday at city hall by officials from the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition-Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.

The Alton Telegraph reports that the city joins Bloomington-Normal, Quincy, Danville, Springfield and Charleston as gateway cities.

Sarah Watson is executive director of the coalition. She says the heritage area covers 42 counties where Lincoln spent most of his time in Illinois.

One of the famous Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 occurred in Alton. Elijah P. Lovejoy published his abolitionist newspaper in Alton. Alton Democratic Sen. Bill Haine called Alton “a crucible in the national conflict over slavery.”

The program includes 12 highway signs to identify the national heritage area.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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