Updated: May 2, 2021
By Wendy Swanson
Friday, April 30, 2021
This past weekend the Lincoln Group’s Jon Willen, who often spends time reenacting in the role of a Civil War surgeon, attended such an event at the Stone Gables Estate in Elizabethtown, PA. That site houses the 2015 replica of the 1865 Lincoln funeral car. In 2018 the Estate purchased this car, the only replica of the first private rail car built for President Lincoln in 1865. Lincoln was scheduled to inspect the new coach on April 15, 1865. Of course, we all know what occurred at Ford’s Theatre before the inspection could take place. After the assassination, Secretary Stanton ordered that the coach be used to carry the body of Lincoln as well as that of his son Willie, who died in 1862, back to Springfield, Illinois. The Estate does have a connection to this historical event: the Lincoln Funeral Train did cross the property on the way to Springfield. Each year the site marks this anniversary of this journey. Civil War reenactors add to the feel of period authenticity for the event.
Jon’s trip to the Keystone State sounds like a successful outing. He reported that the reenactors did get to ride the train and had the opportunity to taste the product of an ice cream maker powered by a steam engine. Moreover, the day included a visit by and a photo op (as shown above) with the Sixteenth President himself in the persona of Fritz Klein, a Lincoln presenter who portrays the Lincoln in Springfield. Klein delivered the Gettysburg Address from the actual lectern used by Lincoln. A train ride, ice cream and Lincoln - quite the day!
Information on the Elizabethtown site is available at https://stonegablesestate.com/harrisburg-lincoln-and-lancaster/lincoln-funeral-train/
Photos furnished by Jon Willen