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Union Pacific #4141 To Lead President George H.W. Bush To His Final Resting Place

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

OK. As we just heard, President George H.W. Bush ended up locked in a tough re-election campaign against Bill Clinton in 1992. And in the weeks leading up to Election Day, the president took to the rails on his Spirit of America train across key battleground states. Here he is speaking from the back of that train in Georgia.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GEORGE BUSH: You know, I believe we're going to win this election. I'm absolutely confident in my heart of hearts.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Cheering).

BUSH: Don't believe these crazy fools.

CHANG: Bush lost the election.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

But the whistle-stop tour was a triumph, the longest rail trip by an incumbent president since Harry Truman.

CHANG: Tomorrow, the 41st president will take a train once again, this time to his final resting place on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.

KELLY: At the head of the presidential funeral train will be a Union Pacific locomotive.

SCOTT MOORE: We have it painted in the color scheme of blue and light blue and white, just like you think of Air Force One. And so it's emblazoned with its Union Pacific number, 4141, obviously, for our 41st president.

CHANG: That's Union Pacific senior vice president Scott Moore. He says when the special locomotive was presented to the president in 2005, Bush had a rather odd request.

MOORE: Story has he goes, can I take this for a spin? And I don't know that everybody was signed up for that, but, nevertheless, they gave him the opportunity to take a 2-mile run in the locomotive. There are some pictures of that where he's sitting there in the cab at the throttle, operating the 4141 locomotive.

KELLY: Abraham Lincoln was the first president to have a funeral train. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the last. And while not presidential, some may remember Robert F. Kennedy's funeral train in 1968.

CHANG: The 41st president's train will travel from Spring, Texas, on a 70-mile trip to College Station.

MOORE: We go through 7, 8 communities, like Navasota and Pinehurst and Spring itself. So we will slow down going through those communities. It's an opportunity for Texans, and really all Americans, to pay their final respects in the final movement to the final resting place for the president.

CHANG: A reminder of the president's time on the rails campaigning in Michigan in 1992.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BUSH: You know, for 233 miles, we've been hanging off the back of this marvelous train, waving to people, seeing some incredible sights, kids and pets and rolling farmlands and factories, thousands and thousands of enthusiastic Americans.

KELLY: The president will be buried tomorrow near his wife, Barbara, and their 3-year-old daughter, Robin, in a family plot on the campus of Texas A&M University.

(SOUNDBITE OF AARON KRAUSE'S "RACING IN YOUR HEART") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.