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Lincoln's Funeral Train Departed 150 Years Ago Today

On April 21, 1865, President Lincoln’s funeral procession set out from Washington, D.C. by train, on its way to Springfield, Ill.

Like a 19th century Air Force One, “it was a specially built private car for presidential use,” Scott Trostle, author of  “The Lincoln Funeral Train,” told Here & Now’s Robin Young.

The first ride that Abraham Lincoln was to have taken on the train was on the morning of his death, April 15th, 1865.

It was a confusing time for Americans. The first president in American history had been assassinated. Guerrilla groups were still fighting in parts of the country.  And there were still 300,000 Confederate troops who didn’t know that the South had surrendered and that the war was over.

As the train stopped in major cities along the way to Illinois – Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis – millions of Americans waited for their chance to get a glimpse of the fallen president, and as Trostle says, “light the way so that Lincoln would not be going into an eternal night.”

Explore More Stories In Our Tracking Lincoln Series

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An 1889 map illustrates the journey of Lincoln's funeral cortege. (National Park Service)
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An 1889 map illustrates the journey of Lincoln's funeral cortege. (National Park Service)