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Traveling with Mr. Lincoln

The Statesmen Excursion takes place this Saturday and the train will depart at 12:01 p.m.

By KATE THURSTON - kthurston@newsexaminer.com

Dean Dorrell spent about $200 on his top hat, just so he could look as close to Abe Lincoln as possible.

Like the real Abraham Lincoln, he lives in a white house in Washington. But his is in Indiana, about 50 miles northwest of the Lincoln Boyhood State Park and the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial.

He is scheduled to ride the Whitewater Valley Railroad Saturday, leaving from Grand Central Station at noon.

His top hat cost about $200 and isn’t quite the same as the one worn by Abe Lincoln as president. The one Lincoln wore to Ford’s Theater, where he was shot, was made from beaver pelt and wasn’t quite as tall as what the Dorrell wears. When a replica of Lincoln’s hat was made for the Smithsonian a couple years ago, it cost about $400.

“I usually recites the Gettysburg Address but also can do other speeches,” Dorrell said.

Dorrell stands at 6’6, just a little taller than Lincoln.

He was awarded 2002 Best Abraham Lincoln by the Association of Lincoln Presenters. Dorrell has appeared on stage in the one-man play “Mr. Lincoln,” by Herbert Mitgang, as well as his own “Evening with Abraham Lincoln.”

Dorrell has been an actor for 45 years, specializing in our 16th President since 1996. He is a life member of the Association of Lincoln Presenters.

“Dorrell portrays Lincoln for not only us but many history organizations and libraries in the state,” William Gray, publicity officer at the Whitewater Valley Railroad, said. 

President Abraham Lincoln, in July of 1862, signed the Pacific Railroad Bill that put the federal government behind the building of the Transcontinental Railroad project. The Transcontinental Railroad was completed on May 10, 1869.

Visitors can travel through time with Dorrell on the Statesman Excursion, a train trip through the Whitewater Valley. Lincoln rides along to the historic town of Metamora. During a two-hour layover, visit the working grist mill, restored canal and lock, replica horse drawn canal boat, historic covered aqueduct, shops and restaurants. Travelers can ask the former president questions and have photos taken with him to preserve the memories. Lincoln will deliver a memorable speech before the train departs Metamora for the return to Connersville.

Gray says the excursions this year have gone very well.

Round trip fares for this train are $25 for adult and $15 for children; one-way fares are $16 for adults and $9 for children. Caboose tickets are available for $28 adult and $17 child. Purchase tickets online or by calling the depot at 765-825-2054.