EDITOR’S NOTE: The Bush 41 locomotive, gleaming in its Air Force One style blue and white color scheme, has sparked a lot of curiosity. We asked Dan Gurley, who spends his days toiling in politics and his spare time watching trains, to explain.
Locomotive 4141 (SD70ACe 4141) was manufactured by EMD and delivered to Union Pacific in 2005. It has always been painted this way. When the unit was initially delivered it was unveiled at the presidential library in College Station. Although 4141 would occasionally show up on the road, most of the time it sat in storage at Union Pacific’s North Little Rock shops. When not on one of its rare appearances in revenue service, the unit would occasionally be pulled out and inspected to make sure it was in tip-top running order and ready for “the call.”
Since its delivery, it has been common knowledge (among those who knew about it) this unit would pull the Bush Funeral Train. Each president and former president has a funeral plan that is periodically updated. They, along with the president’s family, Secret Service, and other stakeholders, work together well in advance so that every detail of the funeral is pretty much pre-planned. Once a president passes, they simply start to execute the funeral plan that is “on file.”
This locomotive and train have been a part of George HW Bush’s funeral plans for many years. Union Pacific Railroad has been involved from the beginning. The trains — there were two with the first carrying, press, law enforcement, dignitaries, and other relevant parties — operated with all Union pacific passenger equipment over the railroad’s tracks from Spring, TX in suburban Houston to College Station. The first train operated with a specially painted locomotive dedicated to veterans.
Now that the special mission is completed, the unit will be taken back to North Little Rock and stripped of all internal operating parts including the prime mover — train-speak for the engine. The body of the locomotive will then be donated and returned to the George HW Bush Presidential Library for permanent display.