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Friday, January 23, 2015

The "The Color Of Coal" Story

President Lincoln's funeral procession traveling
down Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C.
It was an ordinary day.  Just finished reading another news account of the upcoming reenact- ment of the funeral train of President Linicoln as it travels from Washington, D.C, to Springfield, Illinois in May this year.  
The Old Nashville, one of the engines that pulled the
nine cars of the funeral train.  On the front is a
photograph of President Lincoln above the cow-catcher.
It is estimated that tens of thousands of visitors from around the world will be in Springfield from May 1st to 3rd to participate in the reenact- ment of Abraham Lincoln's funeral.  A full-size replica of one of the engines that pulled the funeral train, the Leviathan 63, is already finished and ready for the trip in May.  
The train as it stands at the railroad station in
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The entire program is being presented by the 2015 Lincoln Funeral Coalition of Springfield, IL.  It was reported that Lincoln had a dream about two weeks before he was killed in which he heard sobbing and followed it to the East Room of the White House where he saw soldiers guarding a body.  When he asked the guards who is dead, they told him the President who was killed by an assassin.  It was three days after he told his wife, Mary, and a few close friends of his dream that he was assassinated by actor John Wilkes Booth in the Presidential box of Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C.  
This is the route that the train followed on the trip
from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, IL.  Click to enlarge.
Following President Lincoln's assassin- ation on April 15, 1865, his body was placed on a nine car funeral train on April 21st at 12:30 pm and traveled 1,654 miles to Springfield, IL, arriving on May 3rd for his burial the following day.  The train carrying Lincoln's body traveled through 180 cities and seven states with scheduled stops along the way where his body laid in state.   A few little known facts about the funeral train were: (1) Lincoln's son, Willie, who died at the White House in 1862, was disinterred and placed in a small coffin which accompanied his father home to Springfield. (2) The President's body was packed in ice inside a coffin made with a wooden outer liner, a middle layer of lead, and another inner layer of wood covered in silk.  It was so heavy it required eight pallbearers to lift it.
This is the hearst that was used in Springfield.
(3) Lincoln's corpse slowly decomposed over the long trip so an undertaker on the train continued to apply chalk to cover the green color of the body. (4) Mourners lined the tracks, standing for hours in rain, waiting for a look at the train that moved only 20 miles per hour the entire trip.  Well, the train made a stop in Harrisburg, PA where  lincoln's body laid in state at the Capitol Building for a day.  Then it was placed back on the train and headed toward Philadelphia where it would lay in state at the Independence Hall.  
Oak Ridge Cemetery where the President was buried.
While on it's way to Philadel- phia it passed through my hometown of Lancaster, PA where it made a short stop in downtown Lancaster at the train station.  It was here that a seven woman committee of the Patriot Daughters entered the funeral car to place a bouquet of camellias and white roses by the coffin.  
In 1911 Lincoln's funeral car was destroyed by fire.
A current resident of Lancaster, Joyce Collins of Manheim Township, said that her great- grand- mother, Amelia Ulmer Rodkey, also got to accompany the other seven when they viewed the coffin and Lincoln's body.  

16 year old Amelia viewed the body and recognized Lincoln, but was shocked by its color.  
This will be the reenactment route for the funeral train.
She said it was the color of coal.  The black face must have haunted her until her death in 1944.  After finally arriving in Philadel- phia the onlookers became violent and several were killed.  The train finally reached Springfield May 3rd where Lincoln's body was placed in a hearst and taken to Oak Ridge Cemetery for burial.  The planned reenactment of the funeral train route will cover much the same route, but with fewer stops along the way.  I'm sure Lancaster's train station  will be decorated with red, white and blue and will be filled with a large crowd who will be part of the reenactment of this momentous event in our country's history.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.


  1. http://www.foxnews.com/science/2015/03/20/lincoln-last-ride-veterans-chip-in-to-recreate-abe-hearse/

    VIA Fox News.com [21 Mar 2015]