George H.W. Bush will be carried to his final resting place at his presidential library on the campus of Texas A&M by a specially outfitted locomotive that resembles Air Force One.
The 4,300-horsepower train will take Bush’s casket and family and friends on the 70-mile trip from Houston to College Station, passing through five small towns on the roughly two-and-a-half-hour trip on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.
“I might have left Air Force One behind,” Bush joked about locomotive 4141 — painted in the blue and white of the presidential aircraft — during its 2005 unveiling at the university in honor of the 41st president.
After it arrives at Texas A&M, a motorcade will take the casket to his presidential library.
Bush will be buried after a private ceremony next to his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, who died in April, and their 3-year-old daughter Robin, who died in 1953 of leukemia.
The train’s sixth car, dubbed “Council Bluffs,” has been modified with transparent sides to allow onlookers lining the tracks to see Bush’s flag-draped casket.
It will be the first presidential funeral train since Dwight Eisenhower’s casket was transported from the Washington National Cathedral to his hometown of Abilene, Kansas, in 1969.
Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train in 1865 was the first.
Like many aspects of Bush’s funeral, the train had been part of the intricate planning for years, said Jim McGrath, the former president’s longtime spokesman.
Federal officials reached out to Union Pacific in 2009 at Bush’s request about making the train available for his funeral.
“We said, ‘Of course and also we have this locomotive that we would want to have obviously be part of it,’” company spokesman Tom Lange said.
Bush died last Friday at the age of 94 at his Houston home.
President Trump dispatched Air Force One, designated as “Special Mission 41,” to carry Bush’s casket to Washington on Monday.
Bush lay in state at the Capitol Rotunda until Wednesday, when a funeral was held at the Washington National Cathedral.
He was eulogized by his son President George W. Bush as the “best father a son or daughter could ask.”
George W. Bush breaks down while eulogizing his father
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