Throughout the years, collectors
have approached Kim Bauer with framed copies of
paintings of Lincoln from calendars printed by the
Chicago, Illinois Midland Railroad Co. from the early
1930s to the mid-1950s.
Bauer, curator at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential
Library, became interested in where the original
paintings might be, of course. He phoned the
Springfield-based company, now the Illinois and Midland
Railroad. He also called its corporate owners, Genesee
& Wyoming, in Greenwich, Conn.
"Every time I called Illinois Midland, people weren't
quite sure where the paintings were. When I was referred
to Genesee and Wyoming, nobody (there) knew what this
was," Bauer said.
Then, shortly before the presidential museum opened
in April, he got a call from Illinois and Midland vice
president Raquel Swan. She wanted to know whether the
library and museum wanted the paintings.
Swan invited Bauer to the company's offices off of
North Grand Avenue, just past the railroad tracks at
"The paintings were all over the place, on the walls,
hanging," Bauer said.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, Swan and other IMR executives
will formally donate all 20 of the railroad's paintings
to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
They'll be on display along with other recent
acquisitions in a new temporary exhibit, "Mr. Lincoln's
Attic," that opens the same day.
Most of the paintings portray storied scenes of
Lincoln's life in New Salem. A few depict famous moments
One painting was commissioned for each year's
calendar. Of the 20 paintings, 14 are by Fletcher
Ransom, who trained at the Art Institute of Chicago and
the Academy of Fine Arts in New York City and did work
for Colliers magazine. Springfield High School graduate
Reynolds Jones painted eight others, and three were by
Chicago artist Lane Newberry.
The railroad had five additional Lincoln paintings at
one point, but they are missing.
Ransom was the most famous of the three artists,
according to Lincoln museum registrar William Snyder,
who pointed out Ransom's heavy brush strokes, which paid
homage to Van Gogh, and his use of shadows reminiscent
"Fletcher's use of perspective also was very
accomplished," Snyder said.
In one Fletcher oil painting, "Pioneer
Transportation," Lincoln is helping to save a stranded
flatboat on the Sangamon River near New Salem. According
to the story, Lincoln took charge by drilling a hole
through the boat's side to release the water that had
poured in. An impressionistic forest in the background
shimmers with cool winter pastels.
Bauer wouldn't disclose the combined value of all 20
paintings, but said Ransom's typically sell for $3,000
to $6,000 each. A quick Internet search found one Ransom
work that recently sold for $10,000.
Pete Sherman can be contacted at 788-1539 or