North Carolina Train Museum Day 1 – The Lincoln Funeral Car
Hello from North Carolina! This weekend, the North Carolina Transportation Museum is hosting the Lincoln Funeral Car and has an array of events and exhibits. Civil War food and dances, a Union and Confederate camp, artillery demonstrations, several actors and people doing impressions, and – why we’re going – to see the Lincoln Funeral Car and steam locomotive.
Just like we have Air Force One for the President today, then, considering trains were considered the primary form of long distance transportation, President Lincoln had his own train car, the “United States.” He never got to travel in it, during his lifetime. It was delivered and he was to have toured it the day after he was shot by John Wilkes Booth, the day he died.. Draped in black bunting and staffed by an Invalid Corps honor guard, it became his Funeral Car and would carry Lincoln’s body over 1,600 miles, through 150 cities so mourners could say their goodbyes before the President returned home for the last time.
The original funeral car was sold, stripped of its elegant interior, and put in service as a part of the Union Pacific Railroad. Years later it was sold to a private entrepreneur who thought to exhibit it. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in a prairie fire in Minnesota in 1911. But, fortunately for us, there are many photographs of it from the time period and over the last five years, with the help of those photos, the original blueprints, a lot of hard work, and some inspired support (you have to read the story about the paint chips to believe it), Dave Kloke rebuilt the United States as it was, when it carried Lincoln from Washington, DC to Springfield, IL.
The train is beautiful and looks so much like all the photos of the original. You can see the care that was taken in the details.
The inside is just as opulent. While there are many many photos of the exterior, it seems the same was not true for the interior with many details written in the 1930s by men who were young when they saw it: Green leather walls, ceilings of crimson silk, brass lanterns, medallions, and insignia from each of the states. Kloke and his volunteers I think went above and beyond. Many of the items inside are either actual antiques or closely modeled on antiques (or handmade in the same style). You could feel the history as you stepped on board. Practically smell it.
AND it was the first to actually have a bathroom (although I think they’re still working on building that).
We are in the middle of our Kickstarter to raise funds to tell the story of the Invalid Corps; of soldiers with disabilities who continued to serve. Please donate and/or Share: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dayalmohamed/the-civil-war-invalid-corps-and-the-battle-of-fort
Posted on: August 29, 2015