Engine that carried George H.W. Bush to final resting place reaches its permanent Texas home

A blanketed No. 4141 pulled into College Station on Sunday morning behind another iconic UP locomotive, No. 1943 – The Spirit, which honors U.S. military veterans.
A blanketed No. 4141 pulled into College Station on Sunday morning behind another iconic UP locomotive, No. 1943 – The Spirit, which honors U.S. military veterans. (Texas A&M University)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Union Pacific No. 4141 Engine, a locomotive painted to match Air Force One, ended its journey Monday at its permanent home in front of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Museum.

There engine will remain there as the George & Barbara Bush Presidential Foundation starts planning and fundraising for a multi-year, multi-million-dollar expansion, Texas A&M University said in a news release.

The locomotive is now covered with a deep blue blanket to protect it from the elements and construction as a pavilion is built around it. A new building featuring a restaurant and a Marine One helicopter that Bush used while president will be build next door.

Foundation officials want to complete the exhibits in time for a 2024 celebration marking the 100th anniversary of former President George H.W. Bush’s birth.

“It’s extraordinary to have 4141, this living piece of history, at the museum and library permanently,” said Max Angerholzer, CEO of the Bush Foundation. “Thanks to Union Pacific, Chancellor Sharp and everyone at Texas A&M for helping bring it home.”

Warren Finch, longtime director of the Bush Library and Museum, recalled on Sunday how in 2005 he was preparing an exhibit on the history of trains. He traveled to Union Pacific Railroad headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.

“We asked for a caboose,” Finch said. “Dick Davidson, CEO at the time, told us, ‘I don’t know if we can find you a caboose. How about we give you a locomotive painted like Air Force One and numbered 4141.’”

Union Pacific and museum staff surprised Bush with the locomotive when it came to College Station for the 2005-2006 exhibit. It then traveled the nation on Union Pacific rails as a rolling tribute to the 41st president, according to the news release.

No. 4141 Engine returned to College Station in December 2018, leading the Bush funeral train to where the former president was laid to rest here alongside first lady Barbara Bush.

On Sunday, No. 4141 reached College Station one final time.

“It has come full circle,” Finch said. “This will mean so much to future generations to have the train here, to show people his love of railroading and to talk about the life and legacy of this great man.”

No. 4141 was lifted off its rails by two, 500-ton cranes, placed on a 12-axle trailer and driven to the museum. The locomotive weighs 315,000 pounds.

On Monday, the No. 4141 was lifted off of the trailer and placed on its permanent outdoor pad. The hoist and placement was done with 1,000-ton gantry lift system. Such systems are often seen loading and unloading cargo at deep water ports.

The company handling the move, Supor Services LLC, specializes in unique, heavy-duty hauling challenges. It moved the original Statue of Liberty torch to a new museum and removed a ditched commercial airline from the Hudson River in 2009.

Carlos DaSilva, project manager for the operation, said the move took about four-months to plan and involved a crew of more than 25 workers.

“We’ve done a lot of specialized projects,” DaSilva said. “We’re very proud to be part of this one.”

Davidson, the former CEO of Union Pacific who helped create No. 4141, and his wife Trish have made a significant lead gift to jumpstart fund-raising for the museum expansion, Angerholzer said.

Given the months of fundraising, planning and construction, it is likely to be a year or longer before the public has access to No. 4141.

“What we’re really excited about is what this means for the university, for the community and for the presidential library come 2024,” he said.

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, social media news and local crime.