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.


THE LINCOLN FUNERAL TRAIN -- First installment
APRIL 15, 1865 -- 150 years ago today.

 President Abraham Lincoln expired at 7:22 this morning as a result of a bullet wound to the head.
Negotiations commence with the widow, Mary Lincoln as to where to bury Abraham. She wants him buried in Chicago with no memorials en route.  Congress has offered the empty tomb sites for George and Martha Washington in the Capitol Building. A committee at Springfield, Illinois send a telegraph requesting he be buried in Springfield. Negotiations It looks like where ever Lincoln is to be buried, his remains will journey there by train.
Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton appoints two men as co-chairmen for organizing the train, John Garrett, President of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and Governor John Brough of Ohio, also a railroad president and client of  the Lincoln law practice.


The Lincoln Funeral Train Preparations Installment 2
April 19, 1865
Washington D.C.

 Since the afternoon of April 15, various delegations have called upon Mary Lincoln to negotiate a burial site for President Abraham Lincoln. She steadfastly held to her firm desire that he be buried in Chicago,  but a very strong-willed and male dominated group of politicians from  Springfield, Illinois insisted he be buried there. Mary resisted for four days, and even after Secretary of  War Edwin Stanton announced his version of the funeral plans, on April 18, she held her ground. On the morning of the 19th Stanton publicly retracts his plan. Mary finally consents to the funeral train route and the burial at Springfield on the afternoon of the 19th with strings  attached to which she will not bend. Abraham must be buried in Oak  Ridge Cemetery at Springfield. This becomes a point of contention on May 3 when his remains arrive in Springfield.


The Lincoln Funeral Train Installment 3
April 21, 1865
The Journey Towards Springfield Begins

 At 8:00 a.m. on April 21, 1865, the Lincoln Funeral Train began its sorrowful journey. The destination this day would be Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with an intermediate stop at Baltimore, Maryland. It rain as the train passed the first 40 miles and entered Baltimore. Those in  charge, including a cousin, Ohio Governor John Brough, had no idea how  this nation would respond to the death  of the president. They quickly found out it was an overwhelming  response. The Baltimore funeral procession lasted much longer than  expected, the laying in state at the Exchange (Public Building) was  greatly shortened. The train commenced north about 3:00 pm towards  Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The train arrived there in a terrible thunderstorm around 10 pm. That funeral procession was cancelled and the coffin was taken directly to the Pennsylvania Statehouse for public viewing until midnight. Crowds were not to be denied and nearly crushed the doors to the Statehouse to see their slain President.


The Lincoln Funeral Train Installment 4
April 22, 1865
Harrisburg to Philadelphia - 106 mile journey this day.

 AUTHOR NOTE: For those who listen to NPR radio, I was on the HERE AND NOW show yesterday with Host, Robin Young, at WBUR in Boston, talking  about the passage of the Lincoln Funeral Train in 1865.
Saturday morning of April 22, the terrible storms of the previous night had passed. The restless crowds held a constant vigil outside the Statehouse all night, at one point nearly breaking the doors down in order to view the face of the slain president. The officials promised that if the mob would calm, they would open the doors for viewing at 7 a.m.for two additional hours. People poured in all night, packing the  streets of a rainy Harrisburg..
At about 10:20 a.m. the recessional  parade began, Over 40,000 lined the abridged parade route back to the Pennsylvania Railroad station. The train departed for Philadelphia at  11:00 a.m. Tracks were lined with mourners, and here began the tossing of flowers in front of the train. Church bells tolled along the route, salute canons and minute guns were fired.
A memorial stop was made at Lancaster. The Copperheads held their own separate assembly to spew distasteful speeches.
A second memorial stop was made at Leaman Place (Strasburg Junction in 1865).
A third was made at Downingtown for a fuel, water and ice. Lincoln's body was in a coffin filled with ice, to help preserve the body.
At near 4:30 p.m. the train arrived in West Philadelphia, at the  Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Station. A massive funeral procession was commenced that saw many bands and marching units. One of the honorary pall bears was Vice Admiral Stephen Rowan, from my home town of Piqua, Ohio. People were moved to tears as the procession passes, on the way to Independence Hall. On February 22, 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln raised the flag over Independence Hall and spoke of this being the place where the United States of America was formed as he confronted the reality that the Nation was facing its  greatest challenges.
Abraham Lincoln was laid in Independence Hall, silent in death as tens of thousands of people awaited its opening so they could pay their respects.


The Lincoln Funeral Train Installment 5
April 24, 1865
Philadelphia to New York - 86 mile journey this day.

 Never before had such a mass of people been seen in Philadelphia during the April 22 and 23 viewing. One man wrote, ". . . the crowd was so immense that hundreds were injured." At 1 a.m. on April 24, viewing  ended and the funeral procession was reassembled to removed the remains  to Kensington Station on the north side of Philadelphia, arrival there  was at 4 a.m. The awaiting funeral  train departed on the tracks of the Philadelphia & Trenton Railroad  for Trenton, New Jersey. This was the only state capitol en route where the remains were not removed from the train for viewing. At 5:30 a.m.  trackside memorial was held. This is also the place where a breakfast was served to guest on the train in a baggage car converted to the specific use of dining and marks the place where the dining car is as such is first used as a part of railroad travel. The railroad did not place any cars behind the pilot locomotive. The train switched to  tracks of Camden and Amboy Railroad and traveled to New Brunswick, New  Jersey. There locomotives and railroads were changed. The train now on the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Co. for the trip to Jersey City, New Jersey.
At Jersey City and the Exchange Station, everyone  was removed from the train to a ferry, the remains were taken to an  awaiting hearse and they were ferried across the Hudson River to New  York City. The two cars "UNITED STATES" and the officers car were  barged across the river to a point in Lower Manhattan. The cars were moved north and the a reception parade was held for Lincoln before the being placed in the City Hall. A most untimely event occurred while the remains were be prepared for viewing.


The Lincoln Funeral Train Installment 6
April 25, 1865
New York to Albany - 141 mile journey this day.

 The crowds at New York City had been overwhelming, certainly more than  were expected, considering the draft riots of just a few years earlier. It was during the stop that the famous Gurney photo of Lincoln in death was taken. It nearly cost General Townsend his job. On the afternoon of April 25, the remains were removed from City Hall and taken north to  30th Street Station on the Hudson River Railroad. A massive funeral parade was carried out with over 125 bands and many marching units.
The train this date was pulled by two coal burning locomotives along the route. These were the same two that pulled Lincoln's Inaugural  train in 1861. The train departed at 4 p.m. and this would be the last  time the train would operated in the light of day.
A large  contingent of New York State Guard was placed on the train in anticipation of a Confederate guarilla attack, and they stayed with the train across New York State. The train made a special stop at  Garrison's Landing so that the Cadets of West Point could enter the car and salute the slain President. A meal stop was made a Poughkeepsie, lasting just 15 minutes and feeding over 300 guests on the train.
The funeral train arrived at East Albany at 10:55 p.m, and they were confronted with another ferry move across the Hudson River for the  guests and the hearse with Lincoln's coffin. The empty train was moved  on north to Troy, New York, where a bridge existed, then it went further north on the west side of the Hudson River to Waterford and switched to yet another railroad and brought down to Albany.
During that time the remains had been placed in the Statehouse at Albany.


The Lincoln Funeral Train Installment 7
April 26 - 27, 1865
Albany to Buffalo - 298 mile journey this night.

 When this train departed Albany it switched from day time operation over to night time operations for the balance of the trip to Springfield. Throughout the day on April 26, tens of thousands of  people poured into Albany by every means possible, along with the pickpockets and the burglars who caused a great deal of harm to the  mourners and their homes. The railroad had run out of available passenger cars and resorted to bringing mourners  via freight cars. The Hudson River was nearly as packed with boats of every kind. The doors of the State capitol were opened at 1 a.m. and remained open until 1:30 p.m. over 50,000 awaited admission.
It was a sunny spring afternoon in Albany was the proceedings commenced to return Lincoln's remains to the train. Some people had begun to notice the odor of decay and wondered if the train might continue on its  schedule with a final burial to take place on May 6.
At 3:30 p.m. the procession reached the train. It took 15 minutes to load everyone  on-board, plus many armed members of the New York State Guard. The complexion and make-up of the train changed. Five new sleeping cars  were added, for the first time, replacing coaches. The cars belong to sleeping car magnate, Webster Wagner and were used most of the way to  Springfield. At 4:00 p.m. the train departed on a 15 hour journey to the west.
This was the longest leg of the journey at 298 miles and included five locomotive changes. It also included a meal stop at St. Johnsville, New York.
Mourners lit hundreds of bonfires along the  way, and as the train passed, hymns could be hear, bands played,  congregations prayed and guns were fired in salute as the remains of the president passed by.
After a long night, the train reached Buffalo, pulled by the "Dean Richmond", which came onto the train at Rochester.
Questions as to the continuation of the journey were raised, the decay was becoming advanced.


The Lincoln Funeral Train Installment 8
April 27 - 28, 1865
Buffalo - Erie - Cleveland 183 mile journey this night.

 The daytime viewing had passed, but not without problems. The situation of decay had grown to the point that the Illinois Committee on the train had contacted the Springfield Reception Committee to advise that it might be necessary to conduct the remains straight to  Springfield from Buffalo for immediate burial. After several  telegraphs, it was decided to try and mask the odor of decay and continue forward one day at a time.
At just after 10 p.m. the train pulled out. The calendar rolled over to April 28 as the train headed out of New York and Pennsylvania in short order. One of the invited guests was Erie, Pennsylvania Mayor F. F. Farrar. Confused by rumors, he made a request that there be no public demonstrations in Erie. The bells were tolled at its 2:50 a.m. arrival, salute guns were fired and mourners did come to the station,  but the demonstration was hardly in keeping with the size of the city. Farrar issued a public apology the next day.
At about 3:30 a.m. the train reached Ohio. Along the shore of Lake Erie several towns were  passed. Governor John Brough, who was co-chairman of the train was now also fully in charge while the train remained in the state. At  Wickliffe, 20 select people from the Ohio Committee boarded the train.  General Joe Hooker and staff also boarded the train, he was in military  charge of the train for the balance of the trip.
At 7:00 a.m. the train entered the Cleveland Union Depot in preparation for being pull  backwards to the Euclid Street Station on the east side of Clevaland, and a massive funeral parade to the public square.
The Cleveland  Committee erected a special building on the public square to receive the remains. It was completed on the evening of April 27, and just eight hours later would receive the coffin carrying the slain president. Boats brought people from Canada, and Michigan, trains brought in crowds from along Lake Erie as far west as Toledo, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan, both towns having made requests for the train.
Florals were being strongly encouraged to mask the odor of decay and the press noted the  sudden appearance of large numbers of florals in the funeral car. The coffin would be closed about 9 p.m. and the procession moved to the  awaiting train about 10 p.m. that night as preparations were gotten under way for the second Ohio stop at Columbus.


The Lincoln Funeral Train Installment 9
April 28 - 29, 1865
Cleveland - Columbus 135 mile journey this night.

 The coffin carrying the remains was taken from the train and placed in  the hearse for the long journey west on Euclid Street. it was placed in the reception building, constructed solely for this day.. Mourners  were filling along the rain soaked streets by 6 a.m. As soon as the coffin was placed, mourners were admitted at a rate estimated at 9,000  per hour. They stood in silence awaiting the opportunity to pass the slain president. The Cleveland newspaper noted that the process of decay was defying the art of the embalmer. Florals were being requested en masse at the reception building as well as in the funeral car.
The viewing ended and at 10  p.m. the coffin was closed and removed to the train, at the Vineyard  Street Station. The locomotive "Nashville" (Photo in Installment 8) led the train this night. The train made a memorial stop at Wellington and a brief stop at Shelby. The rain fell in torrents but still the people came to mourn their President. What was described as a fuel stop was made a Crestline. (This author believes this was more than a fuel stop  and that the "Nashville" was taken off the train at the C C & C roundhouse at Crestline.) Worthington was passed at sunrise. The train rolled into the Columbus Union Station by 7:30 a.m. and the funeral  procession departed south on High Street at 8 a.m. ,heading for the Statehouse and a final day of viewing in Ohio.


The Lincoln Funeral Train Installment 10
April 29 - 30, 1865
Columbus - Indianapolis 188 mile journey this night.

 The streets of Columbus filled with mourners as the funeral procession  left the station and headed for the Sate house. The procession arrived at the west entrance about 9 a.m. Mrs Hoffner, representing the  Horticultural Society of Cincinnati was present in the rotunda and as  soon as the coffin was set upon the platform, she placed a floral anchor at the foot of the coffin. More than 9,000 people passed the coffin every hour.
At 6 p.m. the doors of the Statehouse were closed. A bugle sounded and the procession reformed for the escort back to the depot.
The train departed Columbus at 8 p.m. as rain again began to fall. An Irish  immigrant, James Gormley was engineer this night. The train whistled  for brakes off and slowly the train moved west. The undertaker and  embalmer had requested lots of florals for the funeral car. They were  brought to trackside and the train made extra stops this night to take  any florals offered.
The newspapers had begun reporting that the coffin was being sealed, but that was not the case.
Urbana was reached at about 10:40 p.m. and a memorial stop was made  while a second locomotive was put on to help pull the train up the Blue  Hill to the west. Near the station the pilot train stopped short of an  arch built over the track, but being too narrow, it had to be taken  down.
Continuing on, the train climbed to the top of Blue Hill and made another floral stop at St. Paris. The calendar turned one day to April 30 as the train passed through the Village of Fletcher (and the  author's home). A stop was made in Piqua to change locomotives and  another memorial was held with nearly 10,000 mourners gathered,
One  family gathered along the tracks west of Piqua to witness the passage of the train. The nine-year-old boy remembered his folks getting him out of bed and getting dressed in his best clothes for the two mile walk across the muddy fields in the rain, He noted that many people were  standing along the tacks. As the train came by the people were singing  and praying, everyone bowed their heads and the men removed their hats.
Aty New Paris, Ohio, Governor John Brough turned over responsibility for the train to Indiana Governor Oliver Morton in a brief ceremony.  The train crossed the sate line and at Richmond, Indiana a reception  ceremony was held.
The train made several more floral stops on its  way to Indianapolis. It had rained all night as the funeral train  pulled into Indianapolis Union Station at 7 a.m.
The planned funeral procession was cancelled on account of rain and muddy streets The  coffin was taken directly to the Indiana Statehouse.


The Lincoln Funeral Train Installment 11
April 30 & May 1, 1865
Indianapolis - Michigan City - Chicago 210 mile journey this night.

 It rained all day at Indianapolis, the funeral procession had to be cancelled, so the coffin was taken directly to the Statehouse and  viewing was begun. Mourners stood in long lines, soaked through and walked the streets in ankle-deep mud. Over 100,000 viewed the remains.  At 10 p.m. the coffin was again closed and a procession moved back to the train at Indianapolis Union Station. Near mid-night the train began the journey towards Chicago. Many of the mourners, maintained their  sidewalk positions throughout the night and the next morning when the  sun rose, City officials wanted to know why they were still there. They wanted a funeral procession, and that's what they got, with an empty coffin on the hearse to simulate the actual coffin, bands and marching  units as originally planned.
The first 64 miles of track from Indianapolis to Lafayette, Indiana, was the only other section of track  west of Cleveland, Ohio to have carried both the inaugural train and the funeral train.
Locomotives were changed at Lafayette and they continued north, making several floral and memorial stops en route. A  breakfast stop was planned for Michigan City, Indiana and an additional trains joined the funeral train, carrying members of the Chicago Committee out to officially welcome the Funeral train to Chicago..A rather elaborate arch was built over the track and a memorial was held,  plus the public was invited to pass through the car carrying both father and son.
While members of the funeral train were in the station eating breakfast, the funeral train departed. An urgent message was sent to Lake Station to hold the trains. A yard engines was used to  transport the missing guests out to the station and the journey to Illinois resumed.
Coming into Chicago, massive crowds had gathered.  The funeral train was scheduled to stop at Park Row to them deposit the remain into an elaborate funeral hearse and the largest parade in Chicago ever commenced to thread its way to the Cook County Court House

The Lincoln Funeral Train Installment 12
The Land of Lincoln
May 1 - 2, 1865
Chicago - Bloomington - Springfield 184 mile journey this night.

 The final leg of this sorrowful journey began with the closing of the coffin at the Cook County Court House at Chicago near 7 p.m. on May 2nd. The procession was reassembled and it became a torchlight display. As the procession neared Washington and Market Streets, a temporary elevated sidewalk gave way and hundreds of people were thrown into the  trench about seven to eight feet below, then a second walk collapsed at Madison and Market Streets, with over 100 injuries reported. The procession continued on to the Chicago & Alton Station. Lincoln's coffin was being removed from Chicago and would not return.
Near 9 p.m. the pilot train began moving; All told, the funeral train procession included the pilot train, funeral train and two additional trains for specially invited guests. Illinois legend wrongly assumes it was a Pullman car that transported Lincoln to Springfield. There were  four Field & Pullman cats on one of the two trains for guests and a  third train may have been added The guest's trains all left near 7:30 p.m. with the actual funeral train departing about 9:20 p.m. This night  the engineers for the funeral train had instructions to stop just short of each station, then proceed ahead slowly or to stop at each station en route, It was raining and for the last night, the route was lit by many bonfires.
At Wilmington, Illinois, in the Kankakee River Valley, the brakeman were not able to apply the car brakes in-time and  the train ran out-of-control through Wilmington, not regaining control  until out ascending the far side of the river valley.
The train was  nearly two hours off the schedule when it reached Bloomington, where the locomotive was serviced, while a memorial service was conducted. A  bright and rising sun met the dawn. The last 28 miles to Springfield took nearly two hours to cover with arrival at the Chicago & Alton Station in Springfield at 9 a.m. on May 3rd. Vast crowds met the train. The coffin was removed and taken to the State House by procession and at 10 a.m. public viewing began.
The journey of over 1,600 miles had come to an end, nearly one-third of Americans had either viewed  Lincoln's remains or witnessed the passing train.
Captain Robert Todd Lincoln arrived back in Springfield on the 3rd from Washington for  the funeral. He learned of the Mather Place being the choice for burial by the Springfield Committee and promptly notified his mother by  telegraph. She in turn sent a telegraph to the Springfield Committee  insisting that Abraham Lincoln be buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery or she would his remains moved to Chicago. Lincoln's remains were received at  Oak Ridge two days early on May 4, 1865. Mary Lincoln and her two sons, Tad and Robert, moved to Chicago, departing Washington on May 21 or May 22, 1865, She could not bring herself to go to OAk Ridge until some time that September.
The return of the funeral train to Washington  was begun the next morning, May 5, 1865 and ran back to Lafayette, Indiana to Fort Wayne, then switched to track of the Pittsburgh, Fort  Wayne & Chicago Railroad via Lima, Crestline, and Mansfield, Ohio , Pittsburgh, Altoona and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, MAryland and finally Washington, D. C.
The funeral car had been put up for  sale by the United States government while the funeral train was en route to Springfield. It was sold to the Union Pacific Railroad, later being sold to a promoter and was burned outside of Minneapolis,  Minnesota in March 1911.

website design software

[Home] [Train Routes] [Inaugural Train] [Funeral Train] [Buy The Books] [Building the Funeral Car] [Marker Project] [Funeral train recounted] [Speaker] [Links]