The Tomb and the Catafalque of the Capitol
The Tomb (two levels below the Capitol Rotunda) was an original feature of the Capitol, planned as a resting place for George Washington and members of his family. The Washington family politely declined the offer because they felt it would be too much of a tourist attraction. Ironically their chosen resting place of Mt. Vernon has become just that.
The Tomb today stands empty, although from 1865 to 2009 the Lincoln catafalque was stored there. After Lincoln’s death his remains stored in the catafalque were taken by train around the United States for people to pay their respects. His body was buried at Oak Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois.
Then the catafalque was laid here at the capitol as a tribute to the man that united the country. Is it heavy underneath your feet? Maybe the Capitol is haunted because someone had the audacity to store Lincoln’s remains in the basement.
The Tomb stands empty, although from 1865 to 2009 (when it was moved to the United States Capitol Visitor Center) the Lincoln catafalque was stored there. The Lincoln catafalque, first used for Abraham Lincoln’s funeral in 1865, has been used for all those who have lain in state in the Capitol Rotunda since Lincoln’s death. When not in use, the catafalque is kept on display in the Exhibition Hall at the United States Capitol Visitor Center. A catafalque is a raised bier, soapbox, or similar platform, often movable, that is used to support the casket, coffin, or body of the deceased during a funeral or memorial service.
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