After much anticipation, the Lincoln Funeral Train is officially coming to Charleston from May 5 to 7 in honor of the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death.
The train is a replica of the one that carried Lincoln’s body across the country after he was shot, and it is set to go across the country starting from Washington, D.C.
The funeral train costs a total of $15,000 to bring to Charleston, and its arrival was contingent upon whether or not enough money could be raised.
The final $5,000 needed was raised through a combination of grants from the Charleston Tourism fund and Excellence in Education as well as donations.
Diane Ratliff, the Charleston Tourism director, declined to comment on how much these grants were for.
Companies that donated include Unique Suites Hotel, Smoky’s House BBQ, WB Pub N Grub and Aramark Food Service.
Rep. Reggie Phillips from the 110th district also donated to bring the Lincoln Funeral Train to Charleston.
“The donors are very excited that the train will be coming in two weeks,” Ratliff said.
Ratliff said Charleston Tourism was able to get the funds in a month and a half time.
The funeral train is scheduled to be shown from 3 to 7 p.m. May 5 and 6 and will be open to the general public for free, though donations are being accepted.
These donations, which will cover advertising and other things regarding the funeral train, will be taken at the Lincoln-Douglas Debate museum.
The train also scheduled to be shown from to approximately 1,500 elementary school children during their school day.
The train will be at the Fairgrounds near the Lincoln Douglas Debate Museum.
“A lot of people have expressed interest in coming to view the train,” Ratliff said.
People from Mattoon, St. Louis, and other places have also said they want to see the train while it is here.
Charleston is the only place in Illinois to host the train besides Springfield.
The process of bringing the train to Charleston started with Jefferson Elementary School Principal Rob Ulm after he learned about it and brought it to the attention of the city.
Although the train is not handicap accessible, Ratliff said she and the other people involved with the train are trying their best to help individuals who are not able to get on the train to see it.
“We’re seeing if we can use iPads or FaceTime to show what’s inside the train,” she said.
Ratliff said having the train come to Charleston was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It’s very important to the history of the United States,” she said. “Not only will we get to share it with the students, but the general public as well.”
Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]