The past is rolling through the cities of Indiana this month, in the form of a “history train” that features a traveling exhibition about Abraham Lincoln.
Students who visit the train at its stops can compare photos of Lincoln from different eras, review a timeline of the 16thpresident’s life, and vote on their favorite picture of him.
The Indiana Historical Society received a $2.9 million grant in January 2003 from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment to acquire historical items concerning Lincoln, who grew up in the state. The society teamed up with the Indiana Rail Road Co., and the Old National banking company to launch the Indiana History Train.
“When we received the money from Lilly Endowment, we mandated that we would think about a creative way of taking history on the road,” said Carrie Wood, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Historical Society.
The train features three 65-foot renovated Amtrak freight cars. The free exhibition, called “The Faces of Lincoln,” includes a documentary video about Lincoln’s life. Additional activities are offered in tents located outside the train.
Ms. Wood said the exhibit offers rich educational experiences for children. “The kids were very excited, and they kept saying how cool it was, and how they learned a lot,” she said.
“They are not only learning about Lincoln’s life in Indiana, but they are learning about how he was through life, and about trains.”
The train is scheduled to make stops in Bloomfield, Bloomington, Columbus, Evansville, and Indianapolis in Indiana and in Louisville, Ky.
“The history train has had great attendance,” said Ms. Wood, who said 750 students visited the train in one afternoon.
The traveling museum, which is scheduled to go throughout the state periodically for the next five years, will eventually become a permanent exhibition.