Golden History: Lincoln Connection to Golden

Lincoln Funeral Car, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

April 15, 2015

Today is the 150th anniversary of the death of President Abraham Lincoln.  After lying in state in Washington D.C. for a week, the president’s body was put on a special funeral train, which traveled slowly through many cities and several states, and eventually brought him home for burial in Springfield, Illinois.

It may surprise you to learn that Golden has a connection to Lincoln’s funeral car.  An elaborate railroad car had been designed for the President early in 1865.  Lincoln declined to use it, feeling that it was unseemly to travel in such luxury during a war.  Upon his death, the car was put to use as part of his funeral train.  In 1866, it was sold to the Union Pacific and used as an executive car.

In 1874, after stripping it of its finery, the UP gave possession of the coach to the Colorado Central [Railroad], which unceremoniously gutted it at the Golden car shops and rolled it out as an unassuming day coach.
Excerpted from Colorado Central Railroad, p. 407, by Dan Abbott, Dell A. McCoy, and Robert W. McLeod, Copyright 2007 by Sundance Publications, Denver, CO.

The car was later restored and exhibited around the country, but ended its days caught in a grass fire in Minnesota in 1911.  A team of Lincoln and railroad enthusiasts have worked for several years to replicate the funeral car, and its unveiling is set for early May.

The Colorado Central buildings, where the Lincoln car was “stripped of its finery” appear in the lower left corner. I inserted the Coors office building to provide readers with a contemporary anchor point. Click to enlarge.

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