Somewhat ironically, the unveiling of a unique train took place at Texas A&M's bus depot. But no matter the location, former President George Bush would have undoubtedly been touched by the dedication.
Union Pacific Railroad showed off the newest locomotive in its fleet, a nearly 75-foot-long engine painted in the mold of Air Force One, breaking the mold of the highly-visible yellow trains of the company.
The train's number is 4141 in honor of the 41st president, whose library will be hosting a trains exhibit, "Trains, Tracks of the Iron Horse," starting November 7.
But this engine is not for display only. It will be one of the many travelling across the country, including in Texas, where Union Pacific operates heavily. In fact, Mr. Bush's locomotive is expected to log one million miles in the next decade.
Union Pacific Chairman and CEO Dick Davidson made the presentation to the president.
"When Dick told me they were thinking about painting a locomotive in my honor, I literally was overwhelmed," said Bush. "I was speechless. If I'd have had one of these when I was president, I might have left Air Force One behind."
Mr. Bush participated in a skit to debut the machine, one that had audience members laughing before they watched the train in awe. Davidson revealed a small replica model of the engine on stage, which "stunned" Bush.
As part of the skit, he dialed a phone and spoke with a Union Pacific official. As per his request for a bigger locomotive, a rope dropped from the ceiling of the tent where the ceremony took place. The former president, Mrs. Bush, Davidson and his wife pulled the rope, causing the back of the tent to pull back and reveal the massive engine, surrouned by a fog at its wheels and with the sounds of a train heading down the tracks.
Bush has been a train enthusiast dating back to his childhood. "I used to ride them years ago when I was a kid," he said. "That's what we did, we rode the railroads all the time, and I've never forgotten it, being eight-years-old, sleeping on the sleeping cars."
This is just the sixth time Union Pacific hasn't painted their locomotive with the famous Armour Yellow paint.
The images of candidates campaigning from the backs of trains are very famous. But according to a Union Pacific official, this is the first time an engine has been dedicated to a president.
"A wonderfully emotional day for us, and a great day for Texas A&M and for the Bush Library," the president said. "This train is going to go all across the country, and I'm very grateful to Union Pacific and Dick Davidson, my friend, for making this possible to have it unveiled here."
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