COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The locomotive painted to resemble Air Force One that carried the flag-draped body of former President George H.W. Bush to his burial has returned to his presidential library in College Station where it will become a permanent exhibit.
Union Pacific No. 4141, named in honor of the 41st president, was pulled into College Station on Sunday behind “The Spirit,” which honors U.S. military veterans.
After Bush died in 2018 at the age of 94, flag-waving crowds lined the railroad tracks as his body was taken from Houston to the family plot on the grounds of his presidential library at Texas A&M University.
The George & Barbara Bush Foundation plans to build a pavilion around the locomotive and a restaurant next to it, according to the group’s CEO, Max Angerholzer. The foundation also wants to display a Marine One helicopter that Bush flew in as president.
Angerholzer said the project will be complete in time for a 2024 celebration marking Bush's 100th birthday.
Union Pacific originally commissioned the locomotive for the opening of an exhibit on trains at the presidential library. During the locomotive's 2005 unveiling in College Station, Bush talked about his fondness for trains, recalling sleeping on them as a child during trips with his family.
He quipped at the time that if No. 4141 had been around during his presidency, “I might have left Air Force One behind.”
A year after Bush’s death, Union Pacific announced it would donate the locomotive to his presidential library. After that announcement, it was stored and prepared at a locomotive shop in Arkansas, Union Pacific spokeswoman Kristen South said.