The historic Union Pacific No. 4141 Engine, a locomotive painted to match Air Force One, recently reached its final destination at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
A blanketed No. 4141 pulled into College Station behind another iconic UP locomotive, No. 1943 – The Spirit, which honors U.S. military veterans. No. 4141 was later 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.”
Each of the 12 axles that carried No. 4141 is capable of handling 79,000 pounds. The locomotive weighs 315,000 pound. The caravan had six police escorts and other support vehicles to ensure safe, secure transport.
The company that handled 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.