Lincoln Funeral Train rebuilt to commemorate 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's death

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Lincoln Funeral Train rebuilt
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The Lincoln Funeral Car carried not only the Abraham Lincoln's body, but also the body of his son, Willie, who died in the White House three years earlier.

ELGIN, Ill. (WLS) -- The 150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln is April 15, and in suburban Elgin, a group of history lovers will be remembering that time like no one else anywhere.

They are building a piece of history from one of America's saddest times. In a construction company's warehouse, a team of volunteers is bringing to life a full-size replica of the rail car that travelled from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Ill., in April of 1865.

"We're building the Lincoln Funeral Car to retrace the routes in 2015," said Dave Kloke, founder, 2015 Lincoln Funeral Train. "The 150th anniversary of Lincoln's death, and we're going to try to do as much of the route as we can."

Kloke, owner of a successful construction firm in Elgin, decided five years ago to combine his love of Lincoln and love of railroads by building a copy of the Lincoln Funeral car, a car that carried not only the president's body but also the body of his son, Willie, who died in the White House three years earlier. Kloke did his research.

"It's about 90 percent accurate to what it looked like in 1864. We're trying to keep it as close as we can," Kloke said.

The president's open casket was up in front. Son Willie's was in the back, and this was the state room, the president's bedroom. That doesn't make sense unless you know that this was supposed to be the original Air Force One.

"It was supposed to be the presidential car. It was going to be his personal car to tour, and he was supposed to look at it the next day. The day he died he was supposed to look at this car but he never made that appointment," Kloke said.

Fifteen years ago, Kloke built the Leviathan, the locomotive that will pull the new funeral car. It can't be exactly the same, of course, but this spring historic memories will ride the rails again.

"We're going to take it as many places as we can through the cities where the train actually went through. (Get to Springfield?) Oh yeah, we intend to go to Springfield," Kloke said.

The project is funded by donations and volunteer workers, and naturally they're still looking for funds.

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