The locomotive was painted to resemble Air Force One, but George HW Bush joked that if it had been around during his presidency, he may have preferred to ride the rails rather than take to the skies. "I might have left Air Force One behind," Bush quipped during the 2005 unveiling of 4141, a blue and gray locomotive commissioned in honor of the 41st president and unveiled at Texas A&M University. On Thursday, that same 4,300-horsepower machine will carry Bush's casket, along with relatives and close friends, for around 70 miles, the AP reports. The journey through five small Texas towns is expected to take about two and a half hours. It will deliver the casket from suburban Houston to College Station.
There, a motorcade will take Bush to his presidential library at the university, where he will be laid to rest at a private ceremony next to his wife, Barbara, who died in April, and his daughter Robin, who died at age 3 in 1953. The train's sixth car, a converted baggage hauler called "Council Bluffs," has been fitted with transparent sides to allow mourners lining the tracks on Thursday views of Bush's flag draped coffin. It will be the eighth funeral train in US history and the first since Dwight D. Eisenhower's body traveled from the National Cathedral in Washington through seven states to his Kansas hometown of Abilene 49 years ago. Abraham Lincoln's funeral train was the first, in 1865. (There was a "dramatic moment" before Wednesday's service for Bush in Washington.)