The funeral train that carried President George H. W. Bush on his final trip to Texas A&M is being donated by Union Pacific and will be installed on the grounds of Bush’s presidential library and museum.
The funeral train that carried President George H.W. Bush last December to his final resting place on the Texas A&M campus will be put on permanent display on the grounds of his presidential library.
Union Pacific 4141, painted blue, gray and white to mirror the colors of Air Force 1, was brought to College Station on Friday for the announcement. David B. Jones, president and chief executive officer of the George & Barbara Bush Foundation, said the train will be installed in a year or so near the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and unveiled a concept for the partially-enclosed display.
“It’s an incredible representation of a key part of my father’s legacy that will now reside outside of the library where Dad’s life is already so beautifully manifested by various exhibits,” Neil Bush, son of the 41st president and former first lady Barbara Bush, said at the announcement.
Small crowds gathered near the railroad tracks along Wellborn Road to watch as Union Pacific 4141 — this time pulled by Union Pacific locomotive 4014, the world’s largest steam engine — arrived in Aggieland. On a similarly cold and drizzly day Dec. 6, 2018, thousands of people stood by the tracks along the train’s 70-mile journey to College Station from Bush’s funeral in Houston. His casket was visible through windows on the sides of one of the rail cars, and his family was on board.
Union Pacific representatives, Texas A&M officials, Bush family members and other friends of the late president disembarked from the train again Friday for the announcement of its donation by Union Pacific. A relationship with the railroad corporation is “woven into the DNA” of the Bush Foundation and the presidential library, Jones said, with the president and his guests traveling occasionally by train to the library for events.
It was Bush’s idea to be taken by train to College Station to be laid to rest behind his library, where his wife was buried earlier that year alongside their daughter, Robin. Scott Moore, senior vice president for corporate relations and chief administrative officer for Union Pacific, said the plan had been in place for 12 years. Talks of bringing the train back to the library permanently began almost immediately after the burial.
“I think it’s perfect — the president enjoyed that locomotive so much — that it will [have] a resting place here with him,” said Richard Davidson, a friend of Bush who served as CEO of Union Pacific from 1991 to 2007.
Bush’s fascination with trains dates back to 1942, when after his 18th birthday he boarded a train at New York’s Penn Station to join the U.S. Navy. He frequently campaigned by train during his political career. And for the groundbreaking of his presidential library on the Texas A&M campus, Bush and 300 guests traveled by train to College Station.
Neil Bush said that what drew his father to trains is also what drew him to Texas A&M — a common thread of nostalgia and patriotism, “something that lifts us up.” For the train that represented an iconic capstone to the 41st president’s life to be placed permanently next to his museum “is an amazing tribute to a great man,” he said.
Fundraising will now begin for the structure that will house the train. Jones said it will be located on the property near the museum and the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center.
Other speakers at the event included Warren Finch, director of the Bush Library and Museum, Elaine Mendoza, chairman of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, and Andrew Card, Bush’s former Secretary of Transportation and former White House Chief of Staff under his son, President George W. Bush.