Hodgenville (population 2,874) is on the site of Robert Hodgen's 1789 mill, which was built within the protection of Phillips' Fort. The fort was established in 1781 by settlers from Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Hodgenville was established in 1818 and became the county seat when Larue County was created in 1843. Robert Hodgen served as sheriff and as representative of Hardin County in the General Assembly of Kentucky.
In addition to operating his mill and farm, Hodgen operated in his home an inn or "ordinary" in which many notables were entertained. Among Hodgen's customers were Thomas and Nancy Lincoln, whose "Sinking Spring Farm" is located three miles south of Hodgenville. It was there, on February 12, 1809, that their son, Abraham, was born.
The future President is said to have come to the mill many times to play with the Hodgen children. The Lincoln family lived on the Sinking Spring farm until 1811 when they moved 10 miles north to the Knob Creek Farm.
The area's most popular attraction is the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, located three miles south of Hodgenville. The site features a log cabin symbolizing the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, enclosed within a granite memorial shrine. The grounds include 116 acres of the original Thomas Lincoln farm and a visitors' center with audiovisual programs and exhibits on the Lincoln family.
Adjacent to the park is the Nancy Lincoln Inn, also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The inn and four nearby cabins were constructed of chestnut logs and red heart pine in 1928. Until World War II, meals were served at the inn, and the cabins were rented to overnight guests.
Other points of interest include the Lincoln Boyhood Home on Knob Creek nearby, the Downtown Hodgenville Historical District (more than half of the buildings downtown are on the National Register), and the community-owned Lincoln Museum on the town square.
A recent Community Development Block Grant helped support a major renovation at the museum, improving accessibility and exhibit space through expansion into adjacent buildings. The museum, visited by tourists from around the world as well as 25,000 students each year, is on the Civil War Discovery Trail and a Kentucky Scenic Byway. It overlooks a life-size bronze statue of Lincoln by A.A. Weinmann, erected by Congress in 1909 to honor the centennial of Lincoln's birth, with his son attending the dedication ceremony.
Hodgenville is home to the Lincoln Jamboree entertainment venue, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2004. Hodgenville's Main Street Association organizes annual walking tours and a two-week Historic Scavenger Hunt. Several historic church buildings are in the area, including the Hodgenville Christian Church, circa 1877, on Lincoln Square, and the Nolynn Baptist Church, which celebrated the 200th year of its founding in 2003.
Designated a Preserve America Community in August 2004.