Book #176: Abraham Lincoln Comes Home

Abraham Lincoln Comes Home -- coverLuke loved trains. Trains took you places. (One day, his father said, they would take a train to Washington to see the president’s house!) Tonight’s train, though, was different. It carried the body of Abraham Lincoln.

Here’s a book from 2008 about the train that carried Abe Lincoln’s body from Washington to Springfield, Illinois, roughly following the same route Lincoln had followed on his trip to Washington in 1861.

In this fictionalized account, a father takes his son by buggy to the iron rails where the train carrying Lincoln’s body would pass in the night. It’s an immensely sad book, one that describes the bonfires thousands of people lit along the train’s route and the houses draped in black. There were innumerable funerals, fiery torches, tears and speeches. Huge crowds of people appeared along every mile of this 13-day journey to say goodbye. The illustrator, Wendell Minor, relied upon a scale model of Lincoln’s funeral car from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield to paint the pictures in this book.

At the back of the book there are some interesting details about Lincoln’s funeral train:

1.  About thirty million people watched the train pass.

2.  Ulysses S. Grant wept in front of Lincoln’s coffin in Washington, calling it “the saddest day of my life.”

3. The train traveled 20 miles per hour across the nation, but went even slower as it went through small towns.

4. The train engines were draped in black and there was a photograph of Lincoln at the front.

Abraham Lincoln Comes Home -- torches


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