Did you know that President Abraham Lincoln was in Galion during his lifetime?
Local historians are already aware that Lincoln’s funeral train came through western Richland County and eastern Crawford County on the morning of April 29, 1865, passing through Shelby, Crestline, and Galion.
It was noted at the time by news correspondents that when the train reached Galion at 4:23 AM. It was said that people arrived at the then-railroad depot in the dark, carrying lanterns and torches, to view its passing. There is some speculation that the engines were actually switched here.
What recently came to light, however, is that Abraham Lincoln actually came through Crawford County during his lifetime and, for a few minutes at least, was sitting on a train as it stopped in Galion.
It is known that Lincoln changed trains in Crestline as he came east to speak to a gathering at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. That speech took place on September 16, 1859, over a year before the presidential election of 1860.
Lincoln had been in Springfield, as evidenced by trial records indicating that he had been defense attorney in a trial that week.
As he came from Illinois, he would have come through on the Pennsylvania Railroad line and changed at Crestline to the Cleveland, Columbus, & Cincinnati Railroad (in 1868 adding “St. Louis” to its name and becoming the “Big Four Railroad”), and then heading south to Columbus.
A train schedule from that era shows that stations on that line, south of Crestline, at which transfers could be made included Galion, Eden (Leonardsburg), and Delaware.
So for a few minutes, Abraham Lincoln was sitting in Galion at the former Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati Railroad depot. That building was located quite a bit south of the current version (which dates to 1900) just to the east of the modern-day corner of South Liberty and Atwood Streets.
Lincoln’s remarks at the Ohio Statehouse on September 16 were a reprisal of his famous “House Divided” speech. More information on that speech is available here.
Speaking of Lincoln and trains, click here to read the account of Elias H. Fralick, Lincoln’s friend, hand-picked train engineer, and later a Galion resident.
NOTE: This coming week, we will be beginning a new series on 1831Galion. “Landmarks of Galion” will look at pierces of Galion’s built history from personal and architectural history points of view. More about this next week.