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Elgin-made steam locomotive to appear with ‘Abe Lincoln’ Sunday

This  fully functional 1860s-erlocomotive buiklt by David Kloke Elgwill operate Saturday through Monday Illinois Railway Museum Union. | Sun-Times

This fully functional 1860s-era locomotive buiklt by David Kloke of Elgin will operate Saturday through Monday at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. | Sun-Times Media file photo

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Updated: September 30, 2013 6:52AM

Actor Fritz Klein, one of the nation’s best-known Abraham Lincoln “living historians,” will appear at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union on Sunday in conjunction with the running of an 1860s steam locomotive replica that was handmade in Elgin, the “Leviathan 63.”

Klein brings Lincoln to life and has appeared on The History Channel, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic Television, C-SPAN and in person across the country and around the world. His appearance at IRM coincides with another Lincoln attraction: a fully functional 1860s-era locomotive that will operate Saturday through Monday.

The Leviathan 63, built from scratch by Dave Kloke in Elgin, is a regular at IRM events and is preparing to take center stage as the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination approaches.

The locomotive will pull a replica of the Lincoln funeral car, along with an officers’ car and passenger cars, as the nation commemorates this historic event.

Kloke formed the nonprofit Historic Railroad Equipment Association to help fund construction of the 2015 Lincoln Funeral Train.

“I really wanted to build the train for educational purposes. Lincoln’s funeral was the highest-attended funeral in our country’s history, and I’d love for people today to have an opportunity to experience even a little bit of what people 150 years ago witnessed,” Kloke said.

Working from original blueprints, Kloke’s team is currently building the funeral car frame. Like Leviathan, the car will be constructed in exacting detail, right down to the hand-carved wood and silk interior.

The team hopes to recreate the journey the original train took upon Lincoln’s death. Wherever possible, Leviathan and her cars will run on the same tracks and will stop in towns along the route where onlookers can view the train.

Plans call for the Lincoln Funeral Train to arrive in Springfield on May 2, 2015, as part of the sesquicentennial events taking place there in remembrance of Lincoln’s final journey home.

More information is available at

The Historic Railroad Equipment Association exists to educate the public concerning the life of Abraham Lincoln and his influence on American railroad development through the time of his death and return to Springfield, by constructing and operating historically accurate operating equipment representative of that era, according to the nonprofit organization.

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