Following the footsteps of Lincoln's assassin
April 11, 1997
Web posted at: 11:55 p.m. EDT (0355 GMT)
(CNN) -- Thanks to the wonders of modern technology -- namely air-conditioned, chartered buses -- tourists can retrace in 12 hours the route that took John Wilkes Booth 12 days to cover, after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865.
On Saturday, the Surratt House Museum in Clinton, Maryland is offering the first of its eight yearly John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Tours. The expedition covers a dozen sites in Maryland and Virginia -- from the Surratt House (a country home and tavern where Booth stopped to pick up supplies immediately after the assassination) to Ford's Theater (where Booth shot the president) to Dr. Mudd's house (where Booth's broken leg was set, after the assassination) to Garrett's Farm (where Booth was cornered and killed).
"A good number of the buildings Booth went into are still standing," says Joan Chaconas, Assistant to the Director of Surratt House. "We can't get to all of them, but they are still there. ... And of course, everyone is thrilled to meet Dr. Mudd's granddaughter, who is a living connection to the story."
Surratt House, incidentally, was known as a safe house for the Confederate spy underground -- a reputation that eventually contributed to Mrs. Surratt's death by hanging, after the assassination conspiracy trial. How much the widower knew about the plot remains unclear.
"We don't stress or dwell on the guilt or innocence," says Chaconas. "We just sort of show you how they lived -- how the Civil War affected this middle class family."
The Surratt House Museum has Escape Route Tours scheduled for the following dates in 1997: April 12 & 26, May 10 & 24, September 13 & 27, October 11 & 25. Tickets cost $45/person. For more information, call (301) 868-1211 or visit the Surratt House Museum Homepage.
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