The Lincoln Inaugural Train of 1861
The Lincoln Funeral Train of 1865

The story of the two most important trains in United States Presidential History.


1861 - President-elect Abraham Lincoln departed from his home in Springfield, Illinois on February 11, 1961 with a destination of Washington City, to be sworn in as President of the United States of America. His suite who planned to accompany him suggested he not travel as a passenger en route, but by special train making many appearances along the way.  The trip took thirteen days over a lengthy route. No national security was offered. Lincoln was confronted with three assassination attempts, the train was detoured once due to flooding, a blizzard across New York State, tow mis-fired salute canons and at least one missed lunch. His 52nd birthday was celebrated on the train between Indianapolis and Cincinnati.
Lincoln raised the flag over Independence Hall on Washington’s Birthday, February 22, then went to Harrisburg to address a joint session of the Pennsylvania Legislature before executing a plan to sneak him into Washington on a regular scheduled passenger train over two railroads. His journey was successful and the next morning, February 23, 1861, he was walking on the streets of Washington.

1865 - President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, expiring on the morning of April 15, 1865.  His widow wanted him embalmed and shipped straight to Chicago for burial.  While the Illinois Committee worked to get her to change her mind about a private funeral, plans were unfolding to have several national funerals en route.  Major cities acrss the north wanted the train to come there.  Such town included Boston and Cincinnati
On the morning of April 21, 1865, the Lincoln Funeral Train departed from Washington City with two bodies on-board. One was that of the late President Abraham Lincoln and the other was that of his son William “Willie” who had died in 1862. Mary, his widow, had very reluctantly agreed to a route that partially followed portions of the Inaugural Train route of 1861. There were ten planned funerals en route. The destination at Springfield, Illinois was reached on May 2, 1865.
At least 42 locomotives were used en route, the train was ferried across the Hudson River twice. Sleeping cars were added at Albany, New York, but they belonged to Webster Wagner, and not George Pullman as popular lore suggested.
The train consisted of two trains, both under the control of the Federal Government. A pilot train operated ahead of the actual funeral train by from 10 to 15 minutes. As the train entered Illinois, it expanded to three trains, and on the final leg of the journey it consisted of five trains. Lincoln was the first United States President assassinated while holding office.

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