By way of the Union Pacific 4141 locomotive named for President George H.W. Bush more than a decade ago, the 41st United States President is making his final journey to College Station on Thursday, Dec. 6.
Since 1997, the President — who passed away peacefully Friday — and members of his family have been beloved fixtures in College Station with the opening of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.
“It’s a tremendous honor for Union Pacific to participate in President Bush’s funeral service,” said Tom Lange, assistant vice president of corporate communications for Union Pacific Railroad. “He was a man of great dignity and a man of the people, and we want to do all we can to acknowledge that dignity and show our respect for the way he lived and treated people.”
The presidential funeral train is a way for the late President to extend fond farewells to his many friends and supporters in Texas, his home state, while providing them with the opportunity to pay their final respects.
With the help of three additional power cars, the 4,300-horsepower 4141 locomotive, which was custom-painted in hues of blue and gray to resemble Air Force One, a design referred to by Lange as “a striking symbol of national pride and strength,” will haul 10 beautifully-maintained passenger cars from bygone eras.
Together, they will slowly transport the late President and members of the Bush family, among others, on a 70-mile route northwest through eight small Texas towns. President George H.W. Bush’s funeral train enters the books as the eighth in the history of the U.S. Presidents. The seven others began with President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and ended with President Dwight Eisenhower in 1969.
The 420,000-pound locomotive will roll out of Spring, a suburb of Houston, at 1 p.m. CST Thursday, and into College Station, the eastern Texas university town known as Aggieland, at about 3:45 p.m.
“All of us working on the funeral service will always remember this experience,” Lange said. “It’s a tremendous honor to recognize the legacy of President Bush and the service he gave to this country, and an opportunity to say thank you in some small way, and I’m sure those along the route feel the same way.”
Thirteen years ago, the Union Pacific 4141 locomotive was unveiled ceremoniously on the campus of Texas A&M at the opening of a presidential library exhibit, “Trains: Tracks of the Iron Horse,” covering the technological, social and economic history of the railroad industry.
“The railroads have played a tremendous role in the growth of Texas and across our great country,” said Dick Davidson in a 2005 Union Pacific news release. At the time, he was chairman and CEO of Union Pacific and friend of the late President Bush. “Union Pacific felt this was such an historic and important exhibit that creating UP 4141 was an appropriate way to recognize President Bush for his life-long service to our country.”
At the request of the late President, Mike Iden, now retired general director of car and locomotive engineering for Union Pacific, provided a brief tutorial on the roles of conductor and locomotive engineer in the operation of the 4141. Following abbreviated training, President Bush assumed the engineer’s seat and helped take the 4141 for a two-mile drive.
President Bush will be laid to rest alongside Barbara, his wife of 73 years who died seven months ago, and their daughter, Robin, who passed away at age 3, in a family plot on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library on the campus of Texas A&M.
“This particular train trip going from Houston to College Station for the final resting place is a great opportunity for Texans and people all across the country to say their final goodbyes to this great man,” said Scott Moore, senior vice president of corporate relations for Union Pacific.
Union Pacific has media available on its website.
Media contact: Kelly Brown, Texas A&M Marketing and Communications, 979-220-4410