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A steam locomotive pulling nine cars clanked and hissed past 2,000 Westville mourners en route to Michigan City 150 years ago, passing under archways accented in wreaths of evergreen and roses.

On this day back then, throngs of mourners lined the Monon Railroad tracks in LaPorte County, paying homage to slain President Abraham Lincoln as his funeral train completed its homestretch.

In all, the train would pass through 180 cities during its 1,654-mile journey from Washington, D.C., to Lincoln's eventual tomb in Springfield, Ill.

A special exhibit opening at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Merrillville-Ross Township Historical Society Museum retraces the route Lincoln's train took through Indiana, including the Michigan City funeral stop. It also includes a miniature model of the train.

The historic route put Northwest Indiana on the map, with the train running through the region and making a funeral stop in Michigan City on May 1, 1865, before heading on to Chicago and then Springfield.

The nation's first presidential assassination came less than a week after the effective end of the Civil War.

Hundreds of Northwest Indiana men fought, and in many cases died, in the nation's bloodiest war, and the real and social wounds were still fresh as the train carrying Lincoln's casket and funeral entourage of 300 traveling mourners and dignitaries pulled into the region from Indianapolis.

Accounts in the May 6, 1865, edition of the LaPorte Herald newspaper detail the train's reception by region mourners in both Westville and Michigan City.

Women waved white flags of mourning trimmed in black crepe and men removed their hats as the train passed Westville, the story notes.

In Michigan City, the train pulled into the station under a massive evergreen and rose-accented archway, which stood 30 feet high and measured 20 feet wide.

Banners within the archway, which were "the handiwork of the ladies of Michigan City," carried messages of tribute, including "Abraham Lincoln, noblest martyr to freedom!" and "With tears we resign thee to God and history."

A Chicago correspondent, who accompanied the train from Washington, reportedly concluded of the train's reception in Northwest Indiana that "a more thoughtful congregation has not been."

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Local News Editor

Marc Chase is a veteran investigative reporter, columnist and editor of more than two decades. He currently leads The Times news staff as local news editor. He can be reached at 219-933-3327.