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Just Like Abe Lincoln, Obama To Travel By Train To Inauguration

December 15, 2008

Picture Perfect.

“[T]he President-elect, Vice President-elect and their families will travel – via railroad — to Washington, D.C. on Saturday, January 17th and host events along the way in Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore. The trip marks the final leg of a journey that began on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Illinois and will culminate on the steps of the United States Capitol. …

Abraham Lincoln’s famed trip from Springfield to Washington in 1861 was a dangerous one, as history shows.  One of the more telling stories about the type of man Lincoln was is the the fact that in preparation for the journey he roped his own trunks and labeled them ” A. Lincoln, The White House, Washington, D.C.”    In spite of the dangers to the journey there was also great excitement over the new President-elect as this story from Peekskill, New York proves.

A contemporary news report in the Highland Democrat newspaper estimated the crowd at about 1,500 people. This is a remarkable number of citizens, considering that the 1860 national Census listed 3,560 people within Peekskill at that time.

The spectators and participants gathered at the depot around the PeekskillMilitary Academy Cadets, who with their muskets and bayonets surrounded the baggage car platform, forming what was described as a “hollow square,” as the Honor guard.

As the Highland Democrat news account related: “The Academy Boys, under direction of Mr. Wells, the Principal, in military dress, with shouldered muskets and fixed bayonets, preceded by martial music also marched down to the same place, and…they were assigned the position of Guard of Honor; forming a hollow square, in center of which was the baggage tender car, and upon it the Committee and the President-elect was to stand while speaking.”

The special presidential train arrived right on time at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. “Exactly at the time set in the special table of the company, the train arrived, locomotive and cars beautifully decorated with flags, etc. There was a bustle, cheers and hurrahs and Abraham Lincoln stepped from the rear car, followed by half a dozen reporters and passed onto the platform prepared by the committee,” stated the anonymous Peekskill news reporter.

Lincoln shook hands with several people gathered for the reception. “There was a great rush to shake Mr. Lincoln’s hand.”

The train’s conductor was Joseph Hudson of Peekskill. While Lincoln and others were speaking, the conductor supervised the drawing of water from two tanks for the steam boilers, one tank on each side of the tracks. Mr. Hudson also supervised stocking the locomotive with piles of yellow pine cordwood as fuel.

One Comment
  1. RailPro permalink
    December 15, 2008 12:32 PM

    back in the early 1980’s, the illinois department of tourism hired a crew and former chicago and northwestern 4-6-0 steam locomotive #1385 from the midcontinent railroad museum in north freedom, wisconsin to film a commercial recreating lincoln’s funeral train. it was very impressive. it would be impressive to have a “modern” day steam locomotive with a historic railroad car, pull mr. obama and his family from chicago’s union station to washington, dc for the inaugaration.

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