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The "Air Force One" of 1865
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   Author  Topic: The "Air Force One" of 1865  (Read 83 times)
Norm_Anderson
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The "Air Force One" of 1865
 
« on: Jun 12th, 2016, 12:02am »
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Today I found myself at the old Union Depot in Duluth, Minnesota (at the westernmost tip of Lake Superior).  The North Shore Scenic Railroad is headquartered here, and the Lake Superior Transportation Museum also has an impressive collection of static displays, including 4-4-0 locomotive "William Crooks" (the first steam locomotive in Minnesota, in 1861), a Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range 2-8-8-4 "Yellowstone" (with movable drivers), and lots of other cool stuff.  But I was completely blown away by something I did not expect to find.
 
Sitting sedately in the exhibit hall, in all its varnished splendor, was the railroad car "United States," a breathtakingly accurate recreation of Abraham Lincoln's Presidential Car (which also served as his funeral car as his body was returned from Washington City to Springfield, Illinois in April 1865.)
 
The original car was destroyed in a fire in 1911, but a group of dedicated volunteers has scoured archives and records to secure the original specs, and this is as faithful a recreation as is humanly possible.  No slapdash, "close enough" job is this!  As an example, from one of the surviving wood fragments of the original, they were able to scrape down to the original layer of paint, analyze it under a microscope, deduce the pigment mixtures spectroscopically, and mathematically recreate the exact, identical paint.  The two "marker lamps" hanging on the rear platform are the original lamps from the original car-- they managed to survive the fire.
 
I hear that this car has been touring the country, but today was the first I'd heard of it.  It will be spending this summer (2016) in Duluth until Labor Day.  For any railfans or Civil War buffs or Lincoln afficionadoes vacationing in the Upper Great Lakes this summer, this car is well worth a visit.
 
 
Here are a couple of videos about the project:
 
1.  This is from about three years ago, when they were just getting started-- they have also apparently scratchbuilt (that's right!) an authentic, fully operational, full size replica of the original 4-4-0 locomotive, as well.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pyd52yQ2r8

 
2.  This is a walk-through of the car itself, showing the accuracy and attention to detail in this obvious labor of love:
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5L5jLT4fnsQ

 
3.  I found this unexpectedly moving-- a reenactment of the funeral procession itself, which was repeated in cities and towns all along the route of the Funeral Train.  (It is estimated that three million people met the train to pay their respects in 1865-- out of a US population that totaled barely 30 million.)  Though these are obviously amateur reenactors, not professional soldiers, they did an admirable job.  The band is playing the actual Funeral March specially composed for Lincoln's funeral, on instruments that are authentic to the period.  It choked me up.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmXKyf7LLMc

 
 
Regards,
 
Norm


« Last Edit: Jun 12th, 2016, 7:44pm by Norm_Anderson » Logged
Henry
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Posts: 6122
Re: The "Air Force One" of 1865
 
« Reply #1 on: Jun 12th, 2016, 11:26am »
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I read about this project some years ago when the locomotive was still under construction. It looks like they did a nice job on the train.
 
I think the reenactors did a nice job too.


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toptrain
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Re: The "Air Force One" of 1865
 
« Reply #2 on: Jun 19th, 2016, 11:59am »
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I also bounced into the building of this car and latter a note on it touring the country. Thanks for the update. Somewhere there must to a planned literary of where and when this car will go. I hope someone will post it here.
 frank


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toptrain
" Its A Heck of A Day "
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