Presidential funeral train: Recalling FDR’s last journey from Georgia’s Warm Springs

The special funeral train outfitted to carry former President George H.W. Bush from Houston to College Station, Texas, is an echo of the funeral train that carried Franklin D. Roosevelt from Georgia after his death at Warm Springs in 1945.

Roosevelt, a frequent presence in Georgia, was visiting his Warm Springs retreat when he died on April 12, 1945.

A special funeral train carried the president’s casket from Warm Springs to Washington, D.C., including a stop in Atlanta.

The president’s casket was carried in its own train car, with a military honor guard. Honor guards of military units and members of the public gathered along the route of the train, including at Atlanta’s Terminal Station.

The train traveled first to Washington for a small funeral service at the White House, then to FDR’s funeral and burial in Hyde Park, N.Y. In Washington, a horse-drawn Army caisson carried the casket from the train station to the White House.

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Last return to Capital: Brought from Warm Springs, Ga., the flag-draped coffin bearing the body of President Roosevelt is transferred at Washington's Union Station from a special train. Guards arrange the caisson for the procession from the station to the White House, where private funeral services were held yesterday (April 14, 1945) From AJC Archives.

A news account published in The Atlanta Constitution on April 15, 1945, described the train this way: 

“The journey, with the casket under honor guard in the dimlighted presidential car that carried Mr. Roosevelt on so many triumphal travels, was an extension of the sorrowful trip here last night from Warm Springs, Ga., where the president died Thursday.

“Tonight, as then, honor guards of servicemen were stationed along the route. Just as last night, mourners high and low gathered along the route and at operating stops for a last glimpse of the only man to serve 12 years as President.”

President Franklin Roosevelt's train arrives from Washington D.C. at Warm Springs in the 1940s, where he spent time at 'The Little White House.' (KENNETH ROGERS / AJC FILE)


Photos: Franklin Roosevelt in Georgia

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