Lincoln Funeral Train part of Darke County history

GETTYSBURG – “What’s all this going on in little ole’ Gettysburg,” said one gentleman. He was preparing for the traffic that would soon be coming. “Haven’t you heard? The Lincoln Funeral Train is coming through.” He grinned. “They gotta build a track here first.” His friend said, “I knew they never shoulda tore those tracks out.”

Spirits were high as Darke County Parks volunteers enjoyed a warm April 18 morning and prepared to honor President Abraham Lincoln on the 150th anniversary of his assassination. The funeral train went through Darke County… specifically at the Gettysburg Hub of today’s Tecumseh Trail, a relatively new project of the parks system. The arrival of the Lincoln Funeral Train 150 years earlier solidified Darke County’s role in “our rich, national history.”

On the east side of the Bridge Street hub were two display areas, one showing the route of the train, along with books and other memorabilia, the other showing a DVD about President Lincoln. In addition to the DVD, children were given an opportunity to build their own “stove pipe hat.”

“President Lincoln was 6’ 4” tall… the hat added 7-8” to his height,” said one volunteer. An historical piece noted the hat was protection against bad weather; also a good place to store important papers.

On the west side of the hub was the 35th Light Infantry Historical Interpreters. “Anyone have questions?” asked one individual displaying gear and other items of the time. “If I don’t know the answer I’ll be glad to make something up.” He had one item that held considerable interest to visitors… “Want to hold a little history?” he would ask; then as he was handing the rifle to the visitor, he told them, “This weapon was at Gettysburg.”

Hannah Linbaugh was still getting ready for the visitors shortly before the scheduled opening of the event at 10 a.m. It was a long, tedious process involving multiple steps, from putting on a shemine (night gown) and underdrawers to corset, modesty petticoat, hoop and more. Much more. “Don’t forget to put the shoes and socks on at the right time or you had to start over.” She was ready by the time guests started arriving. Just barely.

The event took place Saturday and Sunday and included food and parking from the Cardinal Center, a Sunday morning non-denominational church service, a Lincoln look-alike contest and a visit from Abraham and Mary Lincoln interpreters.

Darke County Parks Director Roger Van Frank said one of the reasons he was doing this was to bring recognition to the bike trail. “I want National Historic Status for this,” he said.

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