Friday, April 12, 2013
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Part of 'lost' Lincoln sarcophagus on display at his tomb

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[April 12, 2013]  SPRINGFIELD -- A piece of the past, once lost for decades, is now on display at the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site. Visitors can view a fragment of the marble sarcophagus that contained Abraham Lincoln's coffin.

The sarcophagus disappeared when the tomb underwent major renovations in 1930. The most common account of the incident was that a truck backed into the sarcophagus, which did not hold Lincoln's body at the time, and shattered it. Onlookers then scooped up the fragments as souvenirs.

But in 1978, workers discovered chunks of marble amid construction debris in an unfinished portion of the tomb's interior. Historians compared the fragments with descriptions and pictures of the sarcophagus and concluded these were the pieces of the missing relic.

The original sarcophagus bore the inscription "With malice towards none, with charity for all." It also had Lincoln's name and a wreath of oak boughs. One of the fragments said "rity for all," the letter "N" from Lincoln's name and part of the oak wreath. Another fragment had the letters "NCO," also part of Lincoln's name.

The fragments were placed in storage and never shown to the public. But now, one of the main pieces is on display in the tomb's Memorial Hall.

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Lincoln's body has been moved many times to guard against grave robbers and allow for renovations of the tomb. His coffin now rests in a block of cement below a 7-ton burial stone.

"The story of the president's remains is full of unexpected twists and turns. We hope seeing this fragment of his sarcophagus helps visitors reflect on that story and, more importantly, on Lincoln's incredible life," said Candy Knox, superintendent of the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site.

The site is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, visit

[Text from file received from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]

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