Does Abraham Lincoln's Funeral Train Haunt Its Processional Route Every April?

You may already know the history behind the assassination of the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth in 1865 but do you know the story of Lincoln’s special funeral train? The impressive locomotive travelled from Washington DC to Springfield Illinois and was met by thousands of onlookers in cities along the way. The story of Lincolns funeral train is one that has fascinated many historians and paranormal enthusiast for centuries. Some claim that Lincolns funeral train retraces it’s processional route every April, but what do you think about this historical haunting? 

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Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States with his term beginning in 1861. Lincoln led the Union through the American Civil War and succeeded in abolishing slavery as well as modernising the US economy. Lincoln also spoke at the dedication of the Gettysburg Battlefield Cemetery on the 19th of November 1863 where he asserted in three minutes that the nation was born not in 1789 but in 1776 and defined the war as dedicated to the principles of liberty and equality for all.

Abraham Lincoln was famously assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor and a Confederate spy from Maryland. Booth attended Lincoln’s speech on the 11th of April 1865 where he promoted voting rights for Black Americans and Booth decided he would assassinate the President.

John Wilkes Booth learnt that Abraham Lincoln would be attending Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC alongside General Grant to watch the play Our American Cousin on the evening of the 14th of April. General Grant decided to visit his children in New Jersey instead of attending the play at the last minute.

It was before his assassination that Abraham Lincoln signed the legislation establishing the United States Secret Service.

At 10:15 on the evening of the 14th of April 1865, John Wilkes Booth got into the back of Abraham Lincoln‘s Theatre box and fired a shot at the back of his head which wounded him badly. Major Henry Rathbone grabbed John Wilkes Booth momentarily but Booth stabbed him and escaped.

Dr Charles Leale and two others took the wounded Lincoln across the street to Peterson house where he remained in a coma for eight hours and died at 7:22AM on the 15th of April 1865.

Abraham Lincoln’s body was placed in a coffin draped with a flag and was loaded into a hearse and escorted to the White House by union soldiers. President Johnson was sworn in later that day.

Abraham Lincoln’s body lay in state first in the East Room of the White House and then later in the Capitol Rotunda until the 21st April. The body of Abraham Lincoln and his son Willie were placed on the Lincoln Special Funeral train which followed a continuous route from Washington DC to Springfield Illinois for three weeks. Lincoln's funeral train stopped at many cities attended by hundreds and thousands of onlookers. Many people gathered on the tracks as the train passed with bonfires, bands and the singing of hymns. Many American historians discuss the widespread shock at Lincoln's assassination but people on the opposite end of the political spectrum may have celebrated his death.

Lincoln's body was buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield Illinois and it lies within the Lincoln tomb alongside three of his sons and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln.

When Lincoln‘s funeral train left Washington on the 21st of April 1865, at least 10,000 people witnessed its departure. The funeral train had nine cars including a baggage car, a hearse car, the president's car which was draped in mourning colours and carried the coffins of Lincoln and his son. Locomotives were substituted at several points on the journey to Springfield Illinois.

A pilot train preceded Lincoln’s funeral train to ensure that the track was clear up ahead. Five of Abraham Lincoln’s relatives and family friends were appointed to accompany the funeral train including Lincoln's brothers-in-law. Four others accompanied the train in a logistics capacity including Lincoln's longtime bodyguard and friend Ward Hill Lamon. The Governors for Indiana, Iowa and Ohio also accompanied the train with their aides.

Abraham Lincoln‘s funeral train was the first national commemoration of a President's death by train and the railway. The train passed 444 communities in seven states and two future Presidents including Theodore Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland viewed the train in New York and Buffalo. The funeral train's route was 1,654 miles and it never exceeded 20 mph.

Lincoln’s funeral train is a story and moment in history that has gained a lot of morbid curiosity and dark fascination with historians and future generations. The train’s long and eerie journey through many states across America has become a well-known part of history which is physically marked by many of the cities along the route today. It is because of the sombre novelty of the Lincoln funeral train that it has been passed down in folklore in many families and in many classrooms across America. 

The spectacle of Lincoln's funeral train has been one often discussed by spiritual members of the public and those interested in paranormal activity. 

The notion of a ghost train is one that has been supported in countries across the World most notably Japan, Canada and the United States. Ghost trains are often cited as being one off sightings of an apparition of an entire train.

According to online forums and ghosthunters online, a phantom funeral train rides the exact same route from Washington to Springfield Illinois on the anniversary of Lincoln's death every year. 

It has also been described in the book “Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits” that two trains pass towns in the funeral procession: the first steam train pulls several cars draped in black adorned with black streamers with one of them being a military car from which sounds of instruments can be heard. The second train pulls a flat car carrying Abraham Lincoln’s presidential coffin. It has also been suggested in the book that watches and clocks in the area surrounding the ghostly procession become around 5 to 8 minutes behind to accommodate the time it takes for the ghostly procession to go past. It is concluded that the phantom Lincoln funeral train never actually reaches its destination in Springfield, Illinois.

Louis C. Jones, Associate Professor of English at New York State College for Teachers, recounted a tale from 1945 which suggested the ghost of Lincoln's funeral train had been discovered and recorded at least a generation earlier by a Chicago newspaper journalist Lloyd Lewis. According to this 1945 version of the tale and supposed sighting, the ghost train can be seen one day every April travelling up the Harlem division with all of the clocks stopping whilst both trains pass by. It is suggested in the same story that the train travelled on up the New York Central railroad up the Hudson division which would have been the correct route at the time.

There are many myths and folk stories surrounding the death, funeral and burial of the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln and the haunting of Lincoln's funeral train appearing every April on the anniversary of his death is just one of them. There were plots to steal the body of Abraham Lincoln. His coffin has been moved 17 times and it has been opened Five times and moved to a secret location. It is easy to see why many paranormal enthusiasts have found the death of Abraham Lincoln to be a fascinating story that interests them.

Have you ever visited Oakridge cemetery in Springfield to see where Abraham Lincoln is buried? 

Lincoln’s Funeral Train Ghost - Does Abraham Lincoln's Funeral Train Haunt Its Processional Route Every April?

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