The Lincoln Highway
National Museum & Archives
102 Old Lincoln Way West
Galion, Ohio 44833

(419) 462-2212 Voice
(419) 462-2214 Fax
(419) 566-0790 Cell

Number 355
Now or Never!!
January 23, 2004

Dear Friends,

President Lincoln's Rail Car
is important because it
can play a key role
in the upcoming
Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration.

But first a little history...

As I understand it,
the rail car was built
in the Government Shops
in Alexandria, Virginia.

Although it was built
specifically for Mr. Lincoln,
he never used it while President.

After his untimely death,
it was quickly reworked into the...

Funeral Car
we all know today.

After the funeral,
it was taken back to Washington
where it sat unused for sometime
and was later sold to
The Union Pacific
in 1868 as an
"Executive Car"
but was never used much
due to the rough ride
and outdated construction of the trucks.

Then in 1905,
Thomas Lowry of Columbia Heights, Illinois
bought the Lincoln Funeral car as a promotion
to bring people to Columbia Heights.

He used it for an office,
and it caught fire and burned in 1911.

While there's more to the story
and it's possible there are a few
mistakes I'm pretty sure
everything is accurate.

But the point is this...

The Union Pacific
owned the car
for a number of years
and retained many of the items
when it was sold

While there were times at the
Union Pacific
it's history didn't seem very important,
in the mid 1920's
Carl R. Gray,
President of the Union Pacific...

wrote this booklet
detailing it's history.

Included were this photo
of a replica...

and these images...

of the major pieces.

So at least in the 20's,
there was recognition of the
significance of the car
at the highest levels of
Union Pacific.

With that established,
we turn to the upcoming
Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration
in 2009.

While a ways off,
there things that need
to be set in motion
in order to be ready in time.

Back in 1999,
after the Museum opened
and 2000 came around,
there was the lingering issue
of when to re-open for the season.

Then one day,
an friend passed away,
and I went to the funeral home
to pay my respects.

During the course of the visit,
the re-opening came up.

One thing led to another.
and within minutes
"The Day Mr. Lincoln Came to Town"
was born.

Since the Lincoln Funeral Train
passed through Galion on
April 29, 1865
the idea was to create a
mock funeral procession
and every year
have that be the
Season Opener.

I immediately went to work
and everything fell into place.

This is the procession
in front of the museum
with an antique hearse.

This is also where the Fire Truck
made its the first appearance.

This replica of Mr. Lincoln's coffin...

received full military honors...

as it took up it's final resting place
among the many tributes
sent by
Lincoln Highway Communities
and the various
Lincoln Groups
around the country.

Note the Presidential Autographs
in the background.

This is also when
94 year old
Marie Biehl
lit the
"Sacred Fire of Liberty"
and we dedicated
The F. W. Biehl
Memorial Library & Research Center

Mr. Biehl,
was her father-in law
and Mayor of Galion during
The Lincoln Highway Years
from 1915-1919
and his wife's father
was in Gettysburg and heard
Mr. Lincoln's Address.

Then,
as part of
The White House Millennium Council,
Millennium Trail Program,
I called all the
Lincoln Highway Mayors
from
New York to San Francisco
and invited them to nominate
their portion of
The Lincoln Highway
as a
Community Millennium Trail.

Which many did...

For a full list...

Click Here

As I'm working on the
Lincoln Highway,
it dawned on me that
The Great Funeral Cortege-The Lincoln Funeral Train Route
was a Historic Route as well.

And since it passed through Galion...

why not sponsor that one as well.

The idea being to
re-establish the Route as a
Historic Trail,
establish the connections under
The White House Millennium Council
and set the stage
for things to come.

So the call went out
to the over 450 Mayors on
The Lincoln Funeral Train Route.

For a full list of those who
participated...

Click Here

OK,
so now fast forward to 2009
and the Lincoln Bicentennial.

Since the Lincoln Funeral was
The Greatest Funeral
in the History of the
United States
wouldn't it be neat to recreate
The Great Funeral Cortege
as part of the
Bicentennial Celebration.

So how cool would that be??

450 cities,
12 Major Funerals
and millions lined along the tracks.

While no doubt a pretty tall order,
with a little thought,
and if everyone does their part,
it all falls together very nicely.

You know what they say...
"No Guts no Glory!!"

So if you're going to go to all the trouble,
you might as well make a movie and document it.

Now there's an idea...

Why not use the movie as the catalyst
for the whole project.

But wouldn't that be expensive??

Indeed,
but if you were ever going
to do such a thing
wouldn't the
Lincoln Bicentennial
be the perfect excuse???

But who could do such a thing??

Why Steven Spielberg...of course.

He made Schindler's List
and did the short film for
The Millennium Celebration
at the
Lincoln Memorial
called
"The Unfinished Journey"

OK so that's done...

So now...
what about a steam engine
and all the associated cars???

Oh Boy!!

Now wait a minute...

If you recall,
The Golden Spike
was set on
May 10,1869
and is the year the
Union Pacific
use as their anniversary.

And since the
Union Pacific
owned
The Funeral Car
and has the plans
and furniture,
why not have them
build a replica train
for their 140th Anniversary
and make it available
to Mr.Spielberg for the film
and then have it tour the
country as a promotion for the film
and the 140th Anniversary
of the Union Pacific.

Talk about made in Heaven!!

And then it gets better...

In addition to
The Lincoln Funeral Car
the train could have a complete
Lincoln display
that might include
The Gettysburg Address
The Second Inauguration
and the
Emancipation Proclamation.
and be similar to
The Freedom Train.

And since 2019 is their
150th Anniversary
once built,
you have
a good 10 years
of life in the project,
not to mention
the many years to come!!

It's all there,
just waiting for people
to climb on board.

But once the train leaves the station
it won't be back for
another 50 or 100 years.

So it's now or never!!

Warmest Regards,

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