We are often asked how the Abraham Lincoln got its name. While Abraham Lincoln did have a private railroad car, this is not it. Additionally, while Abraham Lincoln did have a funeral train after his assassination, this is not it. While this car was named in honor of President Lincoln it was built 101 years after Lincoln's birth, or 45 years after his death.
This car is named in honor of President Lincoln and should not be confused with the first private car in America, which was built for Lincoln as a means to unite the nation after the civil war. Lincoln’s private car was used for his funeral train in 1865, leaving Washington on April 21, 1865 and arrived in Springfield Illinois on May 3. Lincoln's funeral car was destroyed by fire in 1911 as this car (now the Abraham Lincoln) went into service.
Mr. Lincoln’s extraordinary funeral car was sold for $6,850 to the Union Pacific RR, later sold to entrepreneur Franklyn Snow for $2,000., and then sold the car to former Soo Line president Thomas Lowry. Lowry restored the Lincoln funeral car and promoted it as the "most sacred relic in the United States." Featured at several exhibitions across the country, the car was destroyed on March 18, 1911, after a fire swept through a portion of a Minnesota community where it was stored.
President Lincoln pushed through and signed the original Trans-Continental Railroad bill, and Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's son, was president of the Pullman Company when this car was built. On July 26, 1926, Robert Todd Lincoln died at his home, Hildene, located near Manchester, Vermont and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. He was 83 years old
Since the 1860's, railroads identified their cars and engines using an accepted abbreviation of their name and number. For example, the D&RG 101 was the official designation of the car which is now called the Abraham Lincoln. In 1985, the computerization of the railroad operations required a uniform number for official designation, this car became known in the US railroad computers as PPCX 800013.
George Pullman, operating thousands of cars on hundreds of railroads, wanted to offer a different individualized service to his traveling customers. A car with a name could not be confused with a common railroad operated the car, nor would it be easily forgotten. Pullman used more than 20,000 names on his elegant passenger cars.
So, why is this car named the Abraham Lincoln?
1) Railroading as we know it was born with the transcontinental railroad. In 1862, President Lincoln wanted to unite the nations East & West so he signed into law the Union to Pacific Railroad.
2) The first private car in America was built for President Lincoln, but President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and his body was returned to Illinois in the first Presidential Car.
3) Upon George Pullman's death, Robert Todd Lincoln, the president's son, became president of the Pullman Company. Under his leadership in 1910, the largest manufacturer of anything in the world, switched from wood cars to riveted-steel cars. The Abraham Lincoln was built the first year the Pullman Company manufactured these new all steel, heavyweight cars. Originally designated as the D&RG 845, it was built one-hundred years after President Lincoln's birth.
4) A quarter of a century after building this car, The Pullman Company made another leap from the 90-ton six axle heavyweight cars, to the streamlined 50-ton four-axle cars used today. One of the first cars of this new family was called the Abraham Lincoln. Built in 1934, it was a ten-section public car used on the Union Pacific Railroad but was wrecked and destroyed in 1941.
5) In 1940 the Chicago-St. Louis route had one of the fastest and most luxurious trains in the country. As the era of rail elegance came to a close in the late 1960's, this train, named the Abraham Lincoln, closed the book on one-hundred years of the great American passenger train adventure.
6) The D&RG 101 is the oldest operation car in the United States. It's museum quality restoration makes it unique. It is named in honor of the man who made this country truly one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.