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School of Education, Health and Human Behavior
School of Education

th grade Map Lesson: Lincoln's Train Ride to Washington, D.C. and Back: The Celebration and Tragedy of Lincoln


Arizona Strand 1: American History

Concept 1: Research Skills for History

PO 1 . Use the following to interpret historical data:

a. timelines - B.C.E. and B.C.; C.E. and A.D.

b. graphs, tables, charts, and maps

PO 2 . Construct timelines of the historical era being studied (e.g., presidents/ world leaders, key events, people)

Concept 5: Westward Expansion

PO 4. Describe how manufacturing, textiles, transportation improvements, and other innovations of the Industrial Revolution contributed to U.S. growth and expansion.

Concept 6: Civil War and Reconstruction

Goal of the Lesson:

The goal of the lesson is for students to understand and create the maps of the train routes which President Lincoln took to his 1861 inauguration in Washington, D.C. and his funeral train back to Springfield, Illinois in 1865. The students will understand the time period of Abraham Lincoln presidency and the use of the railroad as the contemporary transportation system of the mid 1800's.

Historical Background:

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln left Springfield, Illinois to go to Washington, D.C. to become the 16 th U.S. President by riding on an especially designed train that made numerous stops, so that President Lincoln along with numerous dignitaries and his family could be recognized and seen by the American public. On the way, an assassination plot for the Baltimore, Maryland stop was uncovered. President Lincoln then went into Baltimore in the middle of the night causing controversy about his arrival in Washington, D.C. Several years later in 1865, Abraham Lincoln was celebrating the end of the American Civil War by going to a play at the Ford Theater on Good Friday, April 14, 1865 where he was shot by John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln died the next day, April 15, 1865. His body was taken back to Springfield, Illinois by train along most of the same line that took him four years earlier.

Many historical markers have been placed along this route. These markers are used to show historical events all over America including those in your hometown.

Instructional Procedure:


Label a map appropriately noting the chronological order for the inauguration train or the funeral train for Abraham Lincoln.

Have two students, each with a different map, one map is the inauguration route and the other is the funeral train, compare the journey. Write out notes of what they discover. Also hypothesize: Why do you think that they went to these places?



1. 1897 map of Northern United States that could be used by students to plot the train's progress.

2. Map of entire United States with the capitals starred, but not identified.


1. Use this link either online or as a copied handout: to find the train stops along the route back to Springfield in 1865

2. Use this link either online or as a copied handout: to find the train stops along the route to Washington D.C. in 1861


  1. Brief the students on the history of Abraham Lincoln.
  2. Pass out the Inauguration Stops or the Funeral Train stops. (One half to different students)
  3. Students use their documents to plot out the train routes, labeling appropriately
  4. Compare the routes to see the differences, using a Thinking Map's double bubble map, or Venn Diagram
  5. Discussion on these stops & why? (Related to the train tracks)
  6. Review the major cities and capitols of these eastern states.


  1. To understand the importance of trains to mid- 19 th century America
  2. To create maps using online research sites
  3. To use a timeline to understand the chain of events, and a map to understand American geography of the East

Additional Resources: National Park Service, Lincoln Home site.

"My friends, No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

Lincoln 1861 Inaugural Train Stops Markers

The stops on the Lincoln funeral train: April 21, 1865 to May 4, 1865. This link has details about events at each stop. Interactive link that shows the funeral train and its stops back to Springfield, IL.

Extension Activity:

  1. Find photos and maps of early trains and their routes. Post in your room in chronological order to see the progression of trains in America
  2. Compare Obama's train ride to Washington DC for his inauguration
  3. Use the local historical markers to involve the student's in local history and museums in your area
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