On this day in 1865, Lincoln’s funeral train left Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to head to New York City for its fourth stop. The funeral train was scheduled to spend time in six northern states before arriving in Springfield, Illinois. This was the first time a president was memorialized by rail – stopping in several major cities so that a nation could mourn.
Approximately 10,000 people watched the train leave Washington, D.C. at 7am on Friday, April 21st. The funeral train consisted of nine cars including a baggage car, a hearse car, and the President’s car which was draped in black. The President’s car offered passengers a parlor, sitting room, and a sleeping compartment.
The funeral train was not allowed to travel more than 20 miles per hour at any point as it trekked over 1,600 miles (about half the width of the United States) through Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. New engines were provided at several points along the route and a pilot train preceded the train to ensure the track was clear.
Map created on Google Maps to show approximate route of funeral train
Contrary to widespread belief, Mary Todd, the President’s wife, did not make the trip on the funeral train. Only a few family members and government officials rode on the train with Lincoln’s body. The body of Lincoln’s youngest son, William Wallace Lincoln, was also transported from Washington, D.C. to Illinois so he may be laid to rest along with President Lincoln in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, IL.
Photo of train in Harrisburg, PA by David Clark Burnite – http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation/2015/04/19/Harrisburg-to-observe-Lincoln-funeral-train-on-Tuesday/stories/201504190067, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49483205