Road trip along John Wilkes Booth's escape route

John Wilkes Booth escape route
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Road trip along John Wilkes Booth's escape route

Stop 1: Ford's Theatre, Washington D.C.

On the evening of April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln at a play at Ford's Theatre. Booth jumped from the president's box onto the stage, then escaped despite breaking his leg in the fall.

Today Ford's Theatre hosts a variety of exhibits and programs, including some 150th anniversary tributes to Lincoln.

Photo: Stuart Pearce / Alamy

Stop 2: The Petersen House, Washington D.C.

After he was shot, President Lincoln's body was moved across the street to the Petersen House, where he died the following day.

Visitors can now see a recreation of Lincoln's final hours, as the house has been preserved as a museum.

Photo: dbking/Flickr

Stop 3: Surratt House Museum, Clinton, Maryland

After escaping from the theater, Booth fled with his accomplice, David Herold, to Clinton, Maryland. Here they picked up supplies they had stashed at the Surratt Tavern, a Confederate safe house. Mary Surratt, who owned the house, was found guilty of conspiracy and became the first woman to be executed by the U.S. government.

The house is now a museum, where you can learn about Mary Surratt's involvement in the plot against Lincoln.

Photo: krossbow/Flickr

Stop 4: Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Home and Museum, Waldorf, Maryland

About 20 minutes south of the Surratt House, this is where local doctor Samuel Mudd tended to Booth's broken leg. It's unclear whether Mudd knew what Booth had just done when he helped him, but his act landed him in prison nonetheless.

The house is now a museum with some original items from the Civil War era on display.

Photo: Mark Gail/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Stop 5: Port Tobacco Courthouse, Port Tobacco, Maryland

After Booth's leg was set, he and Herold traveled south around the marshy Zekiah Swamp to get to their next stop: Samuel Cox's home in Rich Hill.

Nearby, in Port Tobacco, the courthouse now has a museum that highlights the events of this time period, including info about one of Booth's conspirators who backed out.

Photo: Mark Summerfield / Alamy

Stop 6: Potomac River

After hiding in the woods of southern Maryland, Booth and Herold crossed the Potomac River to escape into Virginia.

The Harry Nice Bridge now connects Maryland and Virginia across the Potomac.

Photo: Frank Tozier/Alamy

Stop 7: Port Royal, Virginia

Booth stopped at the Brockenbrough-Peyton House in Port Royal, Virginia, but was turned away. He continued to the nearby Garrett Farm, where he was eventually caught and killed on April 26.

The barn where Booth was discovered is no longer standing, but you can still visit the Brockenbrough-Peyton House.

Photo: crazysanman.history/Flickr



History buffs -- this one's for you. To mark the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's assassination by John Wilkes Booth, you can take a road trip following Booth's historic escape route out of Washington D.C. through Maryland and into Virginia.

After shooting President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth leaped from the balcony at Ford's Theatre and escaped the city. He stopped at a few houses and hid out in swamps, woods and a barn to avoid capture. He was eventually caught -- and killed -- twelve days later in Virginia.

The historic 66-mile escape route he took is now marked with signs along local highways. You can visit some of the homes Booth stopped at, and there are museums and informational markers about the Civil War era along the way.

For highlights of what you'll see along the road trip, click through the slides above. The full route is available here.

Lincoln sites in D.C.

Before you hit the road, you might want to check out some of the many Lincoln-centric spots around Washington. There's the Lincoln Memorial, of course, plus his summer cottage (now a national monument). His iconic top hat now lives at the National Museum of American History, and the Willard has a hotel bill for Honest Abe's for his pre-White House stay on display. Hungry after all this? Lincoln, the restaurant, has seasonal small plates and a floor covered in pennies.

Related video: Commemorating the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's assassination
Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln's Assassination

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