A train with a locomotive honoring 41st President George H.W. Bush’s legacy will transport Bush from the Houston area to College Station, where he will be buried alongside his wife and daughter.
The Union Pacific No. 4141 George Bush Locomotive was unveiled in Oct. 2005, during a ceremony near the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum on Texas A&M University’s campus. It is custom painted and incorporates the colors of the Air Force One from Bush’s presidency. There have been only six times that Union Pacific painted a locomotive in other colors instead of the traditional UP “Armour Yellow” paint, according to the company. Union Pacific says since production, it has delivered shipments across all 23 states served by the company and can travel up to 70 miles per hour.
During the ceremony for the locomotive unveiling in 2005, Bush thanked then Union Pacific CEO and Chairman Dick Davidson and the company for their friendship and support.
“If we had the UP 4141 back when I was still in Office, I might have left Air Force One behind more often,” Bush joked.
Mike Iden, retired Union Pacific General Director, Car & Locomotive Engineering, witnessed President Bush personally operating the George Bush 4141 locomotive. The company shared a snippet of his memories on its website documenting the locomotive’s history.
“We briefly talked with the former president about the locomotive, how it operates,” Iden said. “And he asked how the two crewmembers operate their trains. We described the operation with respect to what the conductor does at this desk and what the locomotive engineer does on the control stand on the other side of the cab. It was at that point President Bush said, ‘Can I take this for a drive? Can I run it?’ And we made the decision to bring him into the engineer seat on that side of the cab and give him a little training and of course, our engineer was directly behind him.”
Iden said Bush operated the locomotive for about two miles.
Presidential funeral trains date back to the late 1800s. According to Union Pacific, notable presidential funeral trains include ones for Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, James Garfield, William McKinley, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower.
The rail route from Spring, where the locomotive will depart, to College Station is about 70 miles long and takes two-and-a-half hours to travel. It will cross the towns of Hufsmith, Pinehurst, Magnolia, Todd Mission, Stoneham, Navasota, Millican and Wellborn before arriving in College Station.
The funeral train leaves Union Pacific’s Westfield Auto Facility on Thursday at 1 p.m. and should arrive at College Station across from Kyle Field at 3:25 p.m., according to the company.