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Recalling Lincoln's sad, final visit to Buffalo

Photo from White House.gov

It was 150 years ago today when Buffalo was filled to overflowing with people waiting to grieve over murdered President Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln's coffin made a visit to Buffalo on the long, slow train ride to burial in Springfield, Illinois. His coffin was carried on a special train along the same route he had used to travel to Washington for his inauguration.

Local historian Bren Price says Lincoln's death at the moment of victory in the Civil War seemed to strike people.

"Everybody was there. They came from all over," Price said.

"Throngs lined the railroad tracks, even as it was traveling at night. They had their torches out and they couldn't even see anything. They just were there when the train went by."

Price says somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 people walked past the open coffin in Downtown's Saint James Hall before the funeral train left and headed west to Cleveland.

Lincoln had visited this area two other times beside the trip to the inaugural. Before it was announced the train would come through here, there was an elaborate and vast funeral procession on the same day as the official funeral in Washington, April 19.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.