Train Painted Like Air Force One Finds New Home

 

BRYAN – COLLEGE STATION, TX – The journey ending Monday started modestly 16 years ago, when a museum director asked a railroad executive to borrow an old caboose.

Now the historic Union Pacific No. 4141 Engine, a locomotive painted to match Air Force One, is at its permanent home in front of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

There it will remain as the George & Barbara Presidential Foundation starts planning and fund-raising for a multi-year, multi-million dollar expansion.

The locomotive is blanketed in a deep blue covering to protect it from the elements and construction hazards as a pavilion is built around it. Next door eventually will be a new building featuring a restaurant anda Marine One helicopter that Bush used while president.

Foundation officials want to complete the exhibits in time for a 2024 celebration marking the 100th anniversary of Bush’s birth.

“It’s extraordinary to have 4141, this living piece of history, at the museum and library permanently,” Max Angerholzer, CEO of the Bush Foundation. “THanksto Union Pacific, Chancellor Sharp and everyone at Texas A&M for helping bring it home.”

Warren Finch, longtime director of the Bush Library and Museum, recalled on Sunday how in 2005 he was preparing an exhibit on the history of trains. He traveled to Union Paciic Railroad headquarters in Omaha, Neb.

“We asked for a caboose,” Finch said. “Dick Davidson, CEO at the time, told us, ‘I don’t know if we can find you a caboose. How about we give you a locomotive painted like Air Force One and numbered 4141.’”

Union Pacific and museum staff surprised Bush with the locomotive when it came to College Station for the 2005-2006 exhibit. It then traveled the nation on Union Pacific rails as a rolling tribute to the 41st president.

No. 4141 Engine returned to College Station in December 2018, leading the Bush Funeral train to where the former president was laid to rest here alongside First Lady Barbara Bush.

On Sunday, Finch and Angerholzer watched along the tracks as No. 4141 reached College Station one final time.

“It has come full circle,” Finch said “This will mean so much to future generations to have the train here, to show people his love of railroading and to talk about the life and legacy of this great man.”

Also watching were Richard Zientek of Union Pacific Railroad, and Mark Welsh, dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service.

“It’s exciting for everybody at Texas A&M because this place celebrates President Bush,” Welsh said. “We are among the many Americans who appreciated his respectful governance, the way he treated people and the example he set professionally throughout his life.”

No. 4141 traveled north past Kyle Field at about 10:40 a.m. on the rail near Wellborn Road. It was pulled by another iconic locomotive, No. 1943 - The Spirit, which honors U.S. military veterans.

At 6 p.m., No. 4141 was lifted off its rails by two, 500-ton cranes, placed on a 12-alex trailer and driven to the museum. The locomotive weighs 315,000 pounds.

On Monday, the No. 4141 was lifted off of the trailer and placed on its permanent outdoor pad. The intricate hoist and placement was done with a 1,000-ton gantry lift system. Such systems are often seen loading and unloading cargo at deep water ports.

The company handling the move, Supor Services LLC, specializes in unique, heavy-duty hauling challenges. It moved the original Statue of Liberty torch to a new museum and removed a ditched commercial airliner from the Hudson River in 2009.

Carlos DaSilva, project manager for the operation, said the move took about four-months to plan and involved a crew of more than 25 workers.

“We’ve done a lot of specialized projects,” DaSilva said. “We’re very proud to be part of this one.”

Davidson, the former CEO of Union Pacific who helped create No. 4141, and his wife Trish have made a significant lead gift to jump start fund-raising for the museum expansion, Angerholzer said.

Given the months of fundraising, planning and construction, it is lucky to be a year or longer before the public has access to No. 4141.

“What we’re really excited about is what this means for the university, for the community and for the presidential library come 2024,” he said.

A video about the train’s final journey to the museum can be found HERE.

Additional details, photos and b-roll can be found by clicking HERE.

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