Once Lincoln was buried on May 4th, amazingly nobody thought to preserve or display the historic hearse car. It was sold several times, and eventually was destroyed by fire in 1911. Souvenir hunters were told to take what they wanted.
For the last five years, in Elgin, Illinois, Dave Kloke and several train enthusiast friends have been building a replica of Lincoln's hearse car, as close to accurate as possible. He showed Teichner a lamp from the original train: "The lamp here, we believe, was on the car. We have some documentation that says it was."
They matched photographs of the outside; the inside was harder. "The only photograph we have is when it's in disrepair at the end of its life," said Kloke. "That's how we figured out where the stateroom was."
And there is an exact replica of his coffin.
Last weekend, during the 150th anniversary commemorations of Lincoln's final homecoming, the complete replica hearse car was on display in Springfield.
"We worked on the car all the way to Tuesday when we came down here, right up to the last minute," said the guide.
It was a labor of love for the two dozen or so volunteers who built it by hand.
They've raised less than half of its $350,000 cost. They'd like to see it in a museum. But so far, there's been no interest.
And just like the first time around, the re-enactment of that final, solemn procession: the bearing of Abraham Lincoln's casket through the streets of Springfield at last, to the vault where he would be laid to rest took center stage.
But unlike in 1865, the builders of this replica are determined that Lincoln's funeral car and its remarkable story will not be lost again.
WEB EXTRA:Lincoln assassination: The other murder attempt
As the president was shot at Ford's Theatre, a former Confederate soldier attempted to kill Secretary of State Seward, and failed spectacularly.
For more info:
- "Lincoln's Funeral Train: The Epic Journey from Washington to Springfield" by Robert M. Reed (Schiffer)
- The 2015 Lincoln Funeral Train (Official site)
- Follow on Facebook and Twitter (@2015Lincoln)