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Nostalgia & History > Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilene


Date: 03/24/10 13:15
Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilene
Author: aehouse

Brian Stevens's thread below reminded me that I have a photo in my collection of the arrival of the Eisenhower funeral train at Abiliene, Kansas. The original is an official US Army Photo in the public domain.

It was taken April 2, 1969. Included in the group by the express car (which carried the casket) are the Nixon and Eisenhower families, though then-President Nixon is not clearly evident in the photo.

I obtained the photo from the Army photo archives for a story I wrote, many years ago, for the The Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society's publication.

All three cars shown in the photo are C&O equipment. The car on the right is a Budd-built diner-observation originally built for the Chessie; the express car is a standard heavyweight C&O baggage-express car (now in the B&O Museum in Baltimore) and the car on the left is an 11 double bedroom sleeper.

The C&O/B&O (Washington-St. Louis), the N&W (St. Louis-Kansas City), and Union Pacific (Kansas City-Abilene) cooperated in operating the train. The plan for the funeral and the train's operation had been drawn up years before by the Army's Military District of Washington, with the full cooperation of the railroads. My source of information about the train was William F. Howes, then C&O/B&O passenger service chief, himself a railfan and now retired from CSX, where his last position was head of casualty prevention.

Art House
Gettysburg, Pa.



Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 03/24/10 13:24 by aehouse.




Date: 03/24/10 15:54
Re: Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilen
Author: scottp

How do the sides of the express car seem so dark? I thought the car was in the C&O tricolor scheme...



Date: 03/24/10 18:43
Re: Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilen
Author: aehouse

scottp Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How do the sides of the express car seem so dark?
> I thought the car was in the C&O tricolor
> scheme...

The lower half of the baggage-express car was dressed in black bunting.

The B&W film the photographer used for some reason did not clearly differentiate between the yellow letterboard and blue window panel on the baggage-express car and on the sleeper. The diner-obs was stainless steel with a yellow letterboard, and you'll note that the letterboard appears quite dark on that car.

Other B&W photos of the funeral train I've seen from the Army's photo archives reflect the same color problem. I have no idea what B&W film the Army photographer used, but it certainly did not render the C&O color scheme accurately, particularly the yellow letterboards.

Art House



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/24/10 18:45 by aehouse.



Date: 03/24/10 18:47
Re: Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilen
Author: W8PRR

There is a very good write up on this, and other president's, funeral trains in the book "The President Travels by Train" by Bob Withers

Rick



Date: 03/25/10 11:08
Re: Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilen
Author: mstokinger

Seems odd they'd carry his body in a baggage car. You'd expect something a bit more dignified, like a proper funeral car, a RR business car, or a private car.

It almost looks like they've stopped to load some dog chow in with him.



Date: 03/25/10 12:18
Re: Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilen
Author: wabash2800

I think as close as you could get to that would be a combine. I don't think funeral cars in that era existed. You have to have a way to get the coffin in the car.

mstokinger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Seems odd they'd carry his body in a baggage car.
> You'd expect something a bit more dignified, like
> a proper funeral car, a RR business car, or a
> private car.
>
> It almost looks like they've stopped to load some
> dog chow in with him.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/25/10 12:50 by wabash2800.



Date: 03/25/10 14:35
Re: Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilen
Author: mstokinger

wabash2800 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think as close as you could get to that would be
> a combine. I don't think funeral cars in that era
> existed. You have to have a way to get the coffin
> in the car.
>

IIRC Bobby Kennedy rode in a heavyweight observation car, and that was right around the same time (summer of 1968). I think an actual president deserves at least as much :-)



Date: 03/25/10 15:33
Re: Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilen
Author: DavidP

mstokinger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

>
> IIRC Bobby Kennedy rode in a heavyweight
> observation car, and that was right around the
> same time (summer of 1968). I think an actual
> president deserves at least as much :-)


How about open-casket in a dome? After all Lenin and Mao have spent decades under glass....

Dave



Date: 03/25/10 17:45
Re: Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilen
Author: ts1457

mstokinger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Seems odd they'd carry his body in a baggage car.
> You'd expect something a bit more dignified, like
> a proper funeral car, a RR business car, or a
> private car.

If I recall, that was President Eisenhower's request - standard military steel casket carried in a baggage car. He wanted the same treatment for his remains as any deceased soldier would have had during war.



Date: 03/26/10 04:00
Re: Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilen
Author: bandob

For those who may want to see the historic baggage car, it is at Baltimore's B&O Railroad Museum, in the C&O tricolor scheme.

B&OB



Date: 03/26/10 11:20
Re: Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilen
Author: switchlock

I was a bit young to experience or truly appreciate this event. I'm still kicking myself for not going over to Abilene in 1990 for Ike's 100th birthday anniversary.



Date: 12/29/12 07:25
Re: Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilen
Author: sd60m

mstokinger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> wabash2800 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > I think as close as you could get to that would
> be
> > a combine. I don't think funeral cars in that
> era
> > existed. You have to have a way to get the
> coffin
> > in the car.
> >
>
> IIRC Bobby Kennedy rode in a heavyweight
> observation car, and that was right around the
> same time (summer of 1968). I think an actual
> president deserves at least as much :-)

I thought I read that they had to take a window out to move Kennedy's coffin in and out of that railroad car. I could be incorrect.



Date: 12/29/12 10:13
Re: Ike's Last Ride: Eisenhower Funeral Train at Abilen
Author: ddg

I used to work out of Emporia & later KC with a Conductor who was in the Honor Guard at Ike's funeral. I was there too, in the crowd someplace, but didn't know him at the time, I think he was in the Nat'l Guard or reserves at the time. He was killed switching in the yard at Emporia a few years ago. He was on the KC-Newton Local, and while passing signals, stepped back onto main 2 and was struck by an eastbound Z.



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