The ornate funeral car that carried President Lincoln’s body from Washington, D.C. to its burial in Springfield, Ill., was destroyed by first in the early 1900s. No color photos are known to exist.

The train car was described, in various publications, as claret red and chocolate brown. No one knew for sure until this March 27. That’s when chemistry professor Wayne Wesolowski solved the mystery.

Weslowski, who teaches chemistry at the University of Arizona, was dogged in his pursuit of history. After years of trying, he finally convinced the owner of a window frame from the train car to allow him to analyze a tiny chip of its paint.

Along with a conservator experienced in color-matching, Weslowski hunched over a microscope and sprinkled specks of paint against the rare paint sample.

The answer: The car was a deep maroon — 16 parts black and four parts red.

Source: Funeral Train Mystery Solved by Anne Ryman, The Arizona Republic