When it comes to iconic hearses, the coach that carried Abraham Lincoln on his final ride is a fan favorite. Not only was it an important historical funeral vehicle, it was also something of an enigma. While other famous funeral cars often become part of a collection or get acquired by museums, Lincoln’s carriage was destroyed by a fire in 1887. As a result, only a handful of photographs remain, making it a funeral vehicle lost to history.
That was the case until a group of veterans decided to come together and recreate the hearse for the 150th anniversary commemorative ceremonies to honor President Lincoln back in 2015.
The Blue Ox Veterans Program was originally founded by Eric Hollenbeck, a master craftsman who was grappling with PTSD. As a way to work through his own issues and offer a helping hand to fellow veterans, Eric founded the Veterans group and tasked them with the auspicious project if recreating Lincoln’s funeral carriage. The group worked from photographs to create the hearse, focusing on the details and doing their best to create a fully functional and exact replica of the infamous hearse.
Veterans involved with the program brought in family to help with the build as well, making it a project that gave back to the community in more ways than one. Not only was the funeral carriage complete in time for the honorary festivities being held in Springfield, the hearse remained with the Staab Family Livery and is available for the public to see in the Lincoln Library and Museum each summer. The project also brought together vets from across different generations, conflicts and backgrounds in order to give them a way to work together and channel their energy while connecting with fellow vets.
You can check out the full story of the Lincoln Hearse rebuild as well as more information on the vets program and the Blue Ox community at their official website.