Lincoln's Ghost Train
The phantom funeral train of President Lincoln
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. Because of the overwhelming pain felt by the country, it was decided that the president would be taken from city to city in the norther states so that the citizens could say a final goodbye to their president. A funeral train was commissioned to take the president's body on the 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.
Other reports of the phantom train have been reported since the very first account. A train depot employee once claimed to see the phantom train adorned with mourning drapes for President Lincoln pass along his route. He claimed this occurred in the middle of the night when there was to be no other traffic around. He spoke of the eerie silence all around as the train approached and the absolute fear he felt as it passed by and off into the distance, disappearing from sight for good. He had thought he was hallucinating, or possibly dreaming, but when he reluctantly retold the story the next morning to his day shift counterpart, the other man told him of similar experiences when he worked the late shift. He went on to explain how the phantom funeral train always shows at the very same time and date each year.
These were not the only accounts of Lincoln's ghost train. Since his death, 155 years ago, thousands have seen the ghost train on the anniversary of its funeral trip. People claim to have seen it at come through the same time every year as if it is a memory etched in time.
To this day, every year on the anniversary of the funeral train precession, people from all over 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.