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Historic Union Pacific 4141 pulls into College Station for last stop at Bush Museum

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Posted at 10:49 AM, Mar 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 10:16:12-04

COLLEGE STATION, TX — The historic Union Pacific No. 4141 Engine, a locomotive painted to match Air Force One, has reached its final destination at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum today.

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.

"President Bush had an opportunity to drive this train in Texas a few times and I understand he really enjoyed that," Max Angerholzer, CEO of the George and Barbara Bush Foundation said.

Mark Welsh, Dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service says having the train make its final stop here calls for a celebration.

"We have about 400 graduate students who want to be President Bush one day. So it's a very exciting day to have the 4141 train coming home to college station," Welsh said.

Later today, No. 4141 will be lifted off its rails by two, 500-ton cranes, placed on a 12-axle trailer and driven — carefully — across the west campus of Texas A&M University to the museum.

“What a historic day for our community,” said Chancellor John Sharp of the Texas A&M System. “President Bush loved trains and we love everything associated with the legacy of President Bush. Congratulations to the crew at Union Pacific, our hauling contractor and everyone at the Bush Center at Texas A&M who worked to bring 4141 home.”

"In many ways the University, College Station, is named College Station because it's where the College Station was and there's a lot of history of railroading here and the locomotive will add to that history," Warren Finch, Director of the George H.W. Bush Library and Museum said.

Each of the 12 axles carrying No. 4141 is capable of handling 79,000 pounds. The locomotive weighs 315,000 pound. The caravan will have six police escorts and other support vehicles to ensure safe, secure transport.

The company handling the move, Supor Services LLC, has worked on many unique, heavy-duty projects. It moved the original Statue of Liberty torch to a new museum and removed a ditched commercial airline from the Hudson River in 2009. Its hydraulic trailers are usually transporting equipment for the oil, gas and wind industries.

"The delicateness that we have to care of this... piece of history.. we have to be very vigilant not to make any dings and dents.. we have softeners...for everything. We cover all the bases... it's very unique," Carlos Da Silva, Project Manager of Supor Services LLC, handling the move said.

In 2005, Union Pacific Railroad surprised Bush by painting one of its locomotives to resemble Air Force One and naming it No. 4141 to honor the 41st president. It was brought to College Station in connection with a train exhibit at the museum.

No. 4141 Engine returned to College Station in December 2018. It led the Bush funeral train from Houston to where the former president was laid to rest here alongside First Lady Barbara Bush.

A year later, Union Pacific announced it would donate the locomotive to the museum.

Campaigning on the railroad a time or two one could say George Bush had a love affair with the railroad and this artifact is helping showcase parts of his legacy.

"President Bush loved trains. Early in his career he campaigned on trains and when he was president he rode on trains. This engine was dedicated to President Bush about 15 years ago by Union Pacific," Max Angerholzer, CEO of the George and Barbara Bush Foundation said.

Last month, the Texas A&M System Board of Regents donated two acres to expand the grounds of the museum for exhibit areas for the locomotive and eventually a Marine One helicopter. The exhibits are to be part of a multi-million dollar expansion being planned by the George & Barbara Bush Presidential Foundation. Foundation officials want to complete the project in time for a 2024 celebration marking the 100th anniversary of Bush’s birth.

Throughout his adult life, Bush often recalled fondly riding and sleeping on trains as a boy, A&M said in the announcement. Trains also carried Bush to his service as a naval aviator in World War II and back home. He also used trains for “whistle stop” campaign events during his presidential runs in 1988 and 1992.

"It's wonderful to have the George Bush library here. It's a part of history. We were here when the funeral train came by and so we feel like we are personally connected. It's just really neat. I am excited to see how they get that thing off the tracks and to the library," Tim Smith, a College Station resident admiring the locomotive Sunday said.

In 2005, Bush said that if No. 4141 Engine had been around during his presidency, “I might have left Air Force One behind” and ridden the rails more often.