KBTX | Bryan & College Station, TX | Aggieland News

U.S. Presidential Visits to Aggieland

Train travel was the mode of transportation in the early 1900s. And since Texas A&M sits alongside a railroad, many influential people have come through Bryan/College Station, including some of our nation's presidents.

Before Bush 41 had his own Union Pacific train, presidents in the early 1900's also traveled by railcar.

The first recorded through College Station is William McKinley.

The 25th president made his way through town sometime before his assasination in 1901.

Next came a whistlestop by William Howard Taft in 1909.

"He never got off the train on the campus, but rolled all the way through, and spoke in Bryan from the back of the train," said Texas A&M Archivist David Chapman.

It was four historic hours when Franklin Roosevelt visited Aggieland in 1937.

He came to see his son who was a member of the Texas A&M Board of Directors.

FDR reviewed the Corps of Cadets and spoke to some 20,000 people assembled at Kyle Field.

Before he left, he ate at Sbisa Dining Hall and was extremely impressed by an orange chiffon pie.

"He liked it so much that the carpenters on campus built portable iceboxes. Sbisa made a bunch of pies that they put in these, and put them on his train so he could enjoy these pies all the way back to Washington," Chapman said.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower made several trips to A&M before becoming president, visiting with university presidents and the Ross Volunteers.

It was a somber occasion that brought former president Lyndon Johnson to the university in 1970. He attended fellow Texas leader General Earl Rudder's funeral.

Then came Vice President Gerald Ford, photographed with Jack Williams and speaking at a graduation.

"You realize these photographs are the closest thing we're ever going to have to a time machine because we're not going to be able to go back and look into people's eyes. It's somehow immortality," Chapman said as he looked through pictures at the Cushing Library at Texas A&M.

Then of course, there's George Herbert Walker Bush. He came as vice president and then as the 41st president, speaking at a 1989 graduation where he received a 12th Man jersey.

His son, Bush 43 will do the same on Friday.

"It's really nice to have both father and son come through here. It's a great deal of respect paid to A&M," beamed Chapman.

November 6, 1997 is a day the Brazos Valley will never forget. The dedication of the George Bush Presidential Library brought all the living presidents to campus except for Ronald Reagan, who was represented by his wife.

George Bush, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter stood together in solidarity.

"I thought this is the most incredible thing to have all the sitting presidents all in one place at one time," recalled Chapman. "One of the things they all seem to be very much impressed by is our students and our campus. They always mention it."


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