The Presidential Car "United States." Here's a nicely lit view of David Kloke's replica of President Abraham Lincoln's private railway car "United States". This car was built for the US Military Railroad and was designed exclusively for use by the President....a sort of 1860s-era "Air Force One." Unfortunately, President Lincoln never actually used the car when he was alive. He believed that while there were men dying for the salvation of the union, he should not be traveling about in ostentatious accommodations, such as those offered by this car. Sadly, its only official use was to carry his remains from Washington back to Springfield, IL for burial.
The original "United States" was built between 1863 and 1864 for the President's use. After his death, it was later sold by the US Government to a private railroad and changed hands a couple of times in the latter part of the 19th century. In 1905, it was purchased by the president of Twin City Rapid Transit in Minneapolis, MN with the intent of restoring it to its original splendor. Sadly, before that could happen, the car was lost in a grassland fire. A few relics from it survive, including a window frame. It was from these relics and historic photos that Mr. Kloke was able to establish the layout of the car's interior and most importantly, what color it was painted. Without the window frame, the photos alone would not have helped. Like the original, this replica uses link & pin couplers, but unlike the original, it has a lot of steel underframe components as well as modern air brakes. The car's most unique feature is the odd-looking set of trucks on which it rides. Apparently, the purpose of these unusual trucks was to provide a smoother ride for the chief executive, but in reality, they produced a ride that was actually rougher than a regular coach. Not only that, but they had a tendency to pick the crude switches of the day and derail. Perhaps that's what led the government to let go of it after Lincoln's funeral.