Charleston raises funds to bring Lincoln funeral train

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

The City of Charleston hopes to have a contract signed by the end of the month that will bring a replication of Abraham Lincoln funeral train to Charleston.

Tourism Director Diane Ratliff said they are still processing the contract.

“It’s not official,” she said. “Once we get the contract, we will go about fundraising.”

The money still needed to bring the train to Charleston will amount to around $4,000 to $5,000. The rest of the money will come from grants and donations once the train is set to officially come to Charleston.

The total amount it will take to get the train to Charleston is $15,000.

“It’s pretty substantial,” she said.

If the contract is signed, the train will be in Charleston from May 5 through May 7.

As of now, the only town in Illinois that will officially have the train come to them is Springfield. It will be in Springfield from May 2 to May 4.

It is set to go across the country, from Washington D.C to Springfield, Ill.

The train is still in the process of being built.

“It was built because this year is the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination,” Ratliff said.

The train will essentially be recreated as it was for Lincoln’s funeral after the assassination.

Dave Kloke is building and creating the train.

Kloke is the owner of Kloke Construction and Kloke Locomotive Works. He has worked in the construction industry for 40 years.

His other creations include “The Leviathan 63,” which took him 10 years to build.

“The Leviathan 63” has been shown at the Illinois Railway Museum, Monticello Railway Museum, and “America’s Largest Celebration of Railroading” at the Steam Railroading Institute.

Kloke’s last project was “The York 17,” which was build for the Steam Into History program in York, Pa.

The Lincoln funeral train of 2015 will also take work and preparation.

The planning and execution for the train’s transportation across the United States will take a cast of hundreds, along with the task of coordinating the train’s arrival with different cities.

Jefferson Elementary Principal Rob Ulm was the person who first learned about the train, and brought it to Charleston’s attention.

Because of the educational value of the train, it will be especially important to Charleston that it is made available to elementary school children.

Students from grades four five and six will potentially be able to see the train for its three-day duration. It will be open to the public as well.

The train will be located at the fairgrounds next to the Lincoln Douglas Debate Museum.

Ratliff said they are holding off on donations until the contract is officially signed.

“We don’t want people to donate money, then have the train not come through,” she said.

The train itself will be a steel locomotive, with a replica of the car that Lincoln actually traveled in.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].