The historic Lincoln Funeral Train was front and center for the South Shore CVA's Lincoln Train debut at the Indiana Visitor's Center in Hammond, Indiana. A crowd of people of all ages and interests was present to welcome this historic locomotive to the region.
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"This is a great opportunity," said SSCVA Director of Communication Erika Dahl. "This is the only Chicagoland area stop and its last stop for the entire tour. It's a great opportunity for history and Americana to be here today."
The train features replicas of the train engine, tender and passenger car used to carry Lincoln's casket. Each of the cars has been meticulously recreated using a variety of historical documents and blueprints.
"We used the blueprints from the National Park service to create an exact replica of the 1868 Levithian train," said Director of Media Relations and Education for the Lincoln Train Shannon Brown. "The design of the car comes from photos from the builder's yard and historian accounts, we have recreated it without the use of actual plans."
The interior of the train holds a replica of the coffin used for Lincoln as well as detail within the wood paneling, windows, and rest areas.
"The coffin is close to the original design," said Brown. "It's the same size and same shape, this was recreated through several historical photo designs."
Along with the life-sized replicas, visitors were invited to talk with costumed members who portrayed period accurate characters like a conductor or guardsman. In order to enter the train and see its interior, guests actually have to purchase a ticket and have it checked by the cheerful conductor who wasn't afraid to toss in some historical facts about the background of the train.
For both the SSCVA and the City of Hammond, this train's presence brings a historic opportunity for visitors to see the train up close and speak with experts about the background of the train and President Lincoln.
"The city of Hammond has been great to work with," said Brown. "Everyone on Hammond's end was super excited for this and now we're excited to be so close to home, it's a nice wrap-up to its tour."
"We originally saw that this train was being built by watching the news," said Dahl. "There were a few instances to bring it to another spot in Indiana, but those fell through. We worked and eventually brought it here and made it happen."
As groups of students, elderly, parents and teenagers made their way through the train, their attention was enraptured by the historical details and accuracy. It was an enlightening event and many individuals left the back of the train with smiles on their faces and many eager to talk with others and SSCVA staff to find out more information.
For members of the SSCVA, this stands as a successful journey to bring an important part of history to Northwest Indiana.
"Our mission is to help people learn more about Lincoln from the perspective of railroads," said Brown. "Without his input the railroads may not be the way they ended up, the Transcontinental Railroad may not have even existed."
"It's a great piece of history who's remains have traveled from DC to Illinois," says Dahl. "When the train originally passed through years ago, thousands came out to see Lincoln and had to travel great distances to see someone they cared about very much." It's a big deal to us to have people come out and relieve that historic experience."
7770 Corinne Dr
Hammond, IN 46323
(219) - 989 - 7770
Visit South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority's Website