George H.W. Bush, the nation’s 41st president, will be transported to his final resting place in a funeral train headed by the very locomotive he drove 13 years ago.
Union Pacific No. 4141, an SD70ACe known as the “George Bush 41” locomotive, heads a 13-car funeral train that will transport Bush’s body from Spring, TX, to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station for burial Thursday. Using a train to transport the body of a deceased person is something that many people don’t see often. Traditionally, the family would hire or purchase a second-hand Cadillac hearse to move the body to the resting place. Using a train is something that not many would be to afford, which is probably why it’s reserved for important people like Bush.
Bush will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol through Wednesday, then be flown to Houston to lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church before burial at his family plot at the museum. A 13-car funeral train headed by No. 4141 leaves UP’s Westfield Auto Facility on Thursday at 1 p.m. and is expected to arrive College Station across from Texas A&M’s Kyle Field at 3:25 p.m. The Westfield Auto Facility is not open to the public.
No. 4141 rolled out in College Station in 2005 in honor of the man who served as president from 1989-93. At the unveiling, Bush took the controls for about two miles.
Incorporating the colors of the Air Force One used during Bush’s presidency, the locomotive symbolizes national pride and strength. It bears the number 4141 in honor of the 41st president. The locomotive’s rear panel features elements from Air Force One’s wings and tail, including the American flag and sweeping lines of forward motion representing progress.
After Bush’s death last week, UP began making preparations to hustle the locomotive out of storage in North Little Rock, AR, and ready it for the trip. Since its unveiling, No. 4141 has delivered shipments across 23 states served by UP’s rail network.
The funeral train will pass through several towns – Hufsmith, Pinehurst, Magnolia, Todd Mission, Stoneham, Navasota, Millican,Wellborn – along the 70-mile route from Spring to College Station. A UP spokesman said the train will slow down through a few towns like Old Town Spring, Magnolia and Navasota so observers can pay tribute to Bush.
“It’s an opportunity for a large swath of the population to pay their final respects to someone who has done so much for our country, and by having a train like this pulled by a locomotive specifically about this man is just really unprecedented,” said Scott Moore, Union Pacific senior vice president, corporate relations.
The train’s consist includes UP power cars No. 207, No. 208 and No. 2066, plus the “City of Portland” Dome Diner, “City of San Francisco” Dome Lounge Car, “The Council Bluffs” Baggage Recreation Car, “Harriman” Dome Lounge Car, “Overland” Diner, “Portola” Deluxe Sleeper, “City of Denver” Diner, “Walter Dean” Dome Lounge Car and “Kenefick” Business Car.
The funeral train is another in UP’s long tradition of transporting presidents after their deaths.
The first and most notable funeral train was for Abraham Lincoln in 1865. According to UP, the U.S. military began building a private rail car for Lincoln in 1864. The car was finished in February 1865 but Lincoln never had the opportunity to use it.
Lincoln was shot April 14, 1865, and his funeral train departed seven days later on a 180-city, seven-state journey to Springfield, IL. His body, along with the casket of his son Willie who had died three years earlier, was carried in his private rail car.
UP purchased the car in 1866 and used it for directors and other important travelers during construction of the transcontinental railroad. After removing the furnishings (including the art panels and silver), UP sold the car in 1903. It was eventually put on exhibit in Minneapolis where it was destroyed by fire in 1911.
The history of the car’s furnishings is less clear, but it is known that the couch, chair and desk were on the car in 1868.
Other notable funeral trains includes those for Ulysses Grant, James Garfield, William McKinley, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“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,” Moore said. “Being led by the Bush 4141 locomotive is a great tribute to the man, and we’re glad to be a part of it.”
No. 4141 is the sixth that UP painted in colors other than the traditional UP Armour Yellow paint.