- By Megan Rodriguez for TheEagle.com
Union Pacific has announced that it is donating the No. 4141 George Bush Locomotive for permanent display at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
The engine was pulled to town for the announcement on Friday by the Big Boy No. 4014 steam engine, which is on a tour across the Southwest to mark the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s completion. The Bush Locomotive will be removed from the tour when it is in Palestine today before it is taken to one of UP’s locomotive shops to be prepared for the display, which should open next year.
“This will be a great addition to the library grounds, and it will be great for our visitors to come see the 4141,” Presidential Library and Museum Director Warren Finch said.
Over the next year, the George and Barbara Bush Foundation will be working to raise about $2.5 million to create a structure for the train to be housed, said David Jones, president and chief executive officer of the foundation, which is in the process of getting architectural approval for the display.
The exact location of the exhibit has not been determined yet, Finch said, but it likely will be placed somewhere around the front of the presidential library. The design of the exhibit is still being determined, but Finch said it will be partially enclosed with one side open so it is visible. Visitors will be able to walk through the train when it is on display.
In 1994, former President Bush began using UP trains to travel with his guests to the presidential library in College Station for occasions such as the presidential library groundbreaking ceremony, his 80th birthday and eventually his funeral in December.
The George Bush Locomotive was first unveiled in October 2005, with a paint job to match the color scheme of Air Force One during Bush’s presidency. Former CEO of Union Pacific Dick Davidson was heavily involved in the creation of No. 4141. He said that soon after Bush received the locomotive, some tracks were momentarily shut down so the former president could drive it himself.
“It is safe to say that our relationship with Union Pacific is woven into the DNA of the Bush Library, Texas A&M and our foundation,” Jones said.
Bush’s son, Neil Bush, was one of the approximately 20 guests who rode the train into Bryan-College Station on Friday for the announcement. Neil Bush said riding on the train reminded him of his father’s love for locomotives.
“What drew dad to Texas A&M and to trains is the common thread of something nostalgic,” he said. “Something patriotic. Something that lifts us up and reminds us of goodness and kindness and gentleness. This is the perfect marriage of a wonderful blending of the things dad loved the most.”
Chairman of the Board of Regents for the Texas A&M System Elaine Mendoza spoke on behalf of Chancellor John Sharp and A&M President Michael K. Young, saying the entire system is appreciative of UP’s gift.
“We are so humbled that 4141 will be right here for visitors to remember President Bush who demonstrated what it means to serve by doing so throughout his life,” Mendoza said.
Neil Bush said the ride on the Bush Locomotive also reminded of his father’s funeral, which he said was a sort of “capstone on his life” that the train played a significant role in.
“For this train that has this iconic moment in dad’s life to be resident on the museum property is just an amazing tribute to a great man and a great life well lived,” Neil Bush said. “We are so grateful to Union Pacific for this generous gift.”