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Lincoln's Ghost Train

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States. His presidency was one full of turmoil as the great rebellion known as The Civil War took place during his time as Commander in Chief. The war came to an end on April 9, 1865, with up to a million dead and many more casualties. Five days after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, President Lincoln attended a show at Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C. There, he was shot by Maryland native, John Wilkes Booth. The following day, April 15, 1865, President Lincoln passed away from the wound he sustained in the shooting. The nation mourned, as any would, during this unprecedented time. A funeral train was commissioned to take the president's body on a 1,600 mile journey, with stops across the nation for mourners, from D.C. to his final resting place in Springfield, Illinois on May 3rd.

A year after Lincoln's funeral train made its journey, accounts of its phantom ride began to appear. One of the first detailed accounts was by a switchman working on the line. He was working the night shift waiting for the next train to come through, in 1866, when he heard the train approach. He wasn't expecting a train for awhile so he was a little confused when this one began its approach. He quickly adjusted the tracks so that it could pass. He claimed that the noise it was making was bizarre while the light it shown was brighter than any light he had ever seen. He said the area became chilled suddenly as the train came closer. He explained how the train was speeding at an unnatural rate but at the same time he was able to see that it was draped in mourning cloth while displaying a photo of the President out front. By this point he knew something wasn't right. As quickly as it appeared, it was gone leaving the man completely dumbfounded. He said that in the years that followed, he saw the train several times on the anniversary of its passing. If you would like to read more on his account you can check the archives of the Wichita Herald for the article from 1879. I can't get the link to post here for whatever reason, but it is worth reading.

This was not the only account of Lincoln's ghost train. Since his death, 155 years ago, thousands have seen the ghost train on the anniversary of its funeral trip. To this day, people line up along the many stops the train made back in 1865 in hopes of catching the phantom train as it makes its annual ghostly trip from D.C. to Springfield.

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