4141 is home

President George H.W. Bush's beloved train treks to new permanent Texas home

President George H.W. Bush's beloved train treks to new Texas home

President George HW Bush Barbara Bush Train 4141 procession
Bush (or "41" as he was affectionately known) had a deep love for the train.  Photo courtesy of Union Pacific
President Bush train 4141 procession Spring
The train was last seen publicly in 2018 during Bush's journey to his resting place in College Station.  Photo by Jacob Power
President Bush train 4141 procession Spring
Hundreds gathered in Houston to wave at, salute, and view the train.  Photo by Jacob Power
President George HW Bush Barbara Bush Train 4141 procession
President Bush train 4141 procession Spring
President Bush train 4141 procession Spring

In December 2018, hundreds of Texans lined the railroad near W. Hardy Toll Road to salute the historic Union Pacific No. 4141 Engine, a locomotive painted to match Air Force One. The blue and white carrier led the funeral train of President George H.W. Bush as it traveled to College Station, en route to the 41st president’s final resting place next to wife Barbara Bush

Now, the historic locomotive will have a permanent home, the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents announced. On February 4, the board approved a $1 per-year lease, which allots two acres to expand the grounds of the museum.

That space will eventually house an exhibit area for the 4141 locomotive, as well as a Marine One helicopter.

These two additions are part of a multimillion-dollar expansion being planned by the George & Barbara Bush Presidential Foundation, according to a release. In 2019, Union Pacific announced it would donate the locomotive to the museum. The railroad had surprised Bush in 2005 by painting it to resemble Air Force One in connection with a train exhibit.

Former CEO of Union Pacific Dick Davidson is credited for being instrumental in creating No. 4141 and for jumpstarting the fundraising for the museum expansion, a release notes. 

Foundation officials note that the goal is to complete the project by 2024 to honor Bush’s 100th birthday. They also note that plans for the locomotive arrival have been stymied by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to security precautions, the arrival date will not be publicly announced.

In 2005, Bush said that if No. 4141 Engine had been around during his presidency, “I might have left Air Force One behind.” Bush had recalled fond memories of riding and sleeping on trains as a boy.

Trains also carried Bush to his service as a naval pilot in World War II and back home. They became an unofficial symbol of his presidential campaign in 1988 and 1992 in themed “whistle stop” events.

“It is fitting this significant piece of history will now make its permanent home at the Bush Center at Texas A&M,” said Max Angerholzer, CEO, George & Barbara Bush Foundation, in a statement. “The train meant the world to President Bush. We are grateful to the entire Union Pacific team, especially Chairman and CEO Lance Fritz, for this special gift.”