Ghost story



On the right-of-way of the New York Central Railroad, track-walkers, sand-house men, “shacks” and section-hands used to tell this ghost story of Lincoln’s funeral train.  So said the Albany Evening Times:

“Regularly in the month of April, about midnight the air on the tracks becomes very keen and cutting.  On either side of the tacks it is still warm and still.  Every watchman, when he feels the air, slips off the track and sits down to watch.  Soon the pilot engine of Lincoln’s funeral train passes with long, black streamers and a band of black instruments playing dirges, grinning skeletons sitting all about.

“It passes noiselessly.  If it is moonlight, clouds come over the moon as the phantom train goes by.  After the pilot engine passes, the funeral train itself with flags and streamers rushes past.  The track seems covered with black carpet, and the coffin is seen in the center of the car, while all about it in the air and on the train behind are vast numbers of blue-coated men, some with coffins on their backs, others leaning upon them.

“If a real train were passing is noise would be hushed as if the phantom train rode over it.  Clocks and watches always stop as the phantom train goes by and when looked at are five to eight minutes behind.

“Everywhere on the road about April 27 watches and clocks are suddenly found to be behind.”


From “Myths After Lincoln” by Lloyd Lewis, 1949, pages 344-345 (first published in 1929 by Harcourt, Brace and Company).

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