George H.W. Bush's Funeral Train Is the First Presidential Funeral Train in 49 Years
For many, George H.W. Bush‘s death last Friday signified the end of an era. This is made even more apparent with the 41st president’s decision to incorporate a funeral train as part of his state funeral — a tradition that first began with President Abraham Lincoln and hasn’t occurred in 49 years.
“I might have left Air Force One behind,” Bush said at the 2005 reveal of “4141,” a locomotive painted to look like Air Force One. The train had been created in honor of the former president, according to the Associated Press.
Following a funeral service at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas on Thursday, the 41st president’s remains will be transported by “4141” to College Station. From there, his coffin will be taken to the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum at Texas A&M University, where he will be buried next to his late wife, Barbara Bush, and their daughter Robin, who passed away in 1953 at the age of three. The train procession, which will last about two-and-a-half hours, will include friends and family, per the AP.
On Wednesday, the former president and war hero, who died at the age of 94, was honored by moving eulogies from family and political peers — including son George W. — during a funeral service at the National Cathedral. Bush’s coffin was then taken back to his home state of Texas.
George W. Bush Cries During Emotional Eulogy of Father George H.W.
“Every day of his 73 years of marriage, dad taught us all what it means to be a great husband. … He was dedicated to her totally,” reflected his son, George W., on Wednesday. He is one of Bush’s five surviving children.
He later added, “We’re going to miss you. … So through our tears, let us know the blessings of knowing and loving you, a great and noble man. … The best man a son or daughter could have. … And in our grief, let us know that dad is hugging Robin and holding mom’s hand again.”
The funeral train is one way the Bush family can honor their beloved patriarch. According to the New York Times, the former president and his wife were given a tour of the train when it was unveiled in 2005. The elder Bush was so taken with the train that he got a short tutorial and proceeded to drive the train for two miles. He later decided to include the train in his funeral plans. Previous presidential funeral locomotives include “Abraham Lincoln in 1865, Franklin Roosevelt in 1945 and Dwight Eisenhower in 1969,” per the Times.
Remembering his trips on trains when he was a child, Bush said in 2005, according to the AP: “We just rode on the railroads all the time, and I’ve never forgotten it.”