The 2010 Assembly Plant of the Year is located in a town that was named after America’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, more than seven years before he occupied the White House.

The 2010 Assembly Plant of the Year is located in a town named after America’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. Employees are proud of that historical connection. In fact, the plant’s office contains numerous pictures of “honest Abe.”

The Eaton Corp. factory has been assembling electrical products in Lincoln, IL, since 1958 (the year that ASSEMBLY Magazine first debuted and the 100th anniversary of an historic speech delivered by Lincoln in his namesake town).

Lincoln is a rural town that’s located 25 miles north of Springfield, IL, on world-famous Route 66. Unlike other states that contain cities named after America’s most popular president, the Illinois site was actually named more than seven years before Lincoln occupied the White House. In fact, at the time, Lincoln was hardly known outside of Illinois.

Abraham Lincoln made many trips to the area when he was a highly-regarded lawyer (today, the original Logan County courthouse that Lincoln visited is on display at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI, but a reproduction exists in Lincoln). He christened the town on August 27, 1853, using watermelon juice (according to local legend, old Abe selected a watermelon from a nearby pile and sliced it open with a pocketknife).

At the time, Lincoln was serving as council for the Chicago & Alton Railroad, which developed the central Illinois town along it tracks. Developers asked the future president if they could name the new locale after him. Lincoln reluctantly agreed, but he modestly cautioned, “You’d better not do that, for I never knew anything named Lincoln that amounted to much.”

Lincoln also visited his namesake town on Oct. 16, 1858, when he made a dramatic two-hour speech that helped propel him on his unusual path to the White House. At the time, Lincoln was running against Stephen A. Douglas for the U.S. Senate. Douglas eventually won the election, but, according to historians, during the stump speech on the steps of the courthouse in his namesake town Lincoln honed his growing rhetorical powers and enhanced his popularity by interacting with the audience.

Abraham Lincoln’s last visit to Lincoln, IL, occurred on May 3, 1865, when his funeral train paused there during its 14-day journey from Washington to Springfield, where the “great emancipator” was buried.