CHICAGO (CBS) — For the right person or organization, it’s the ultimate Lincoln souvenir.
The replica of the presidential private car that conveyed the body of President Abraham Lincoln to its final resting place needs a permanent home, WBBM’s Dave Dahl reports.
The original was completed days before Lincoln’s assassination, and Lincoln never had the chance to ride in it while alive. Instead, the presidential car was pressed into service as a rail-borne hearse on a circuitous route that took Lincoln’s body from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, New York, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis and Chicago before arriving at Lincoln’s burial place, in Springfield.
The replica was built over the period of several years in the machine shop of Elgin contractor and master mechanic. Dave Kloke. Paired with Kloke’s 1860s replica steam locomotive, Leviathan, it was used in the 2015 re-enactment of the funeral in Springfield and on a 12-city tour.
Kloke made use of the original U.S. Military Railroad plans, but built it with steel framing, something not adopted in the manufacturing of railroad cars until the turn of the 20th century.
“We have always wanted [the car] to be an educational piece, a way for people to get up close to history and learn about Lincoln, and we enjoyed every stop on the 2015 tour, but it was never our intent for the car to travel for an extended period,” said Kloke, president of the Historic Railroad Equipment Association, the non-profit that owns the replica.
He said requests continue to come in on a regular basis from communities that want to exhibit the car, and said that has hastened the group’s decision to seek a permanent home.
“We certainly want it to remain accessible to people, and the best way to do that is to place it in a permanent location,” Kloke said. “That’s what is best for the car.”
Volunteer Shannon Brown said there is a lot involved logistically any time a railroad car is moved over public roads, not the least of which is fitting beneath bridges.
Brown recommends keeping the car stationary because “you always run the risk of having it on the road – going down the highway, just like a semi would.”
The original Lincoln funeral car survived for more than 45 years after conveying his body to Springfield, but perished in a fire in 1911.
Brown said a request for proposals (RFP), announced last month, has drawn several responses. that special consideration will be given to proposals that originate in cities through which the funeral train passed in 1865, Kloke said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously reported the replica of the presidential private car that conveyed the body of President Abraham Lincoln was for sale. The organization would like to find it a permanent display location.