Here's how to see the Bush funeral train

RELATED TOPICS: UNION PACIFIC
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UP4141Schmollinger
UP 4141 will lead the Bush funeral train.
Steve Schmollinger
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Bush funeral train will be difficult but worthwhile to see.

On Thursday Dec. 6, the remains of President George H. W. Bush will be transported by train from Spring, Texas, to their final resting place at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the grounds of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. The train is scheduled to depart Spring, at the Westlake automotive facility on the north side of Houston, at 1 p.m. and arrive in College Station at 3:25 p.m.

The train is a once-in-a-lifetime event for railroad enthusiasts: The last presidential funeral train ran in 1969 when Dwight D. Eisenhower was taken to Abilene, Kansas.

Trains has been told that the funeral procession will include two separate trains. The first, headed by Union Pacific No. 1943, the railroad’s veteran’s unit, will carry non-family participants in the interment ceremony. The second will carry the former president’s remains and his immediate family members. It will be pulled by Union Pacific No. 4141, a SD70ACe that in 2005 was renumbered to commemorate Bush's term and painted in a scheme inspired by Air Force One.

The train will travel on Union Pacific's Navasota Subdivision. The railroad line traces its roots back to the 1850s, when the Houston & Texas Central established the first right-of-way. The H&TC was leased by and then merged into the Texas & New Orleans in the 1920s and 30s. T&NO was itself a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific and formally merged into the line in 1961.

The rare chance to see a presidential funeral train will draw many railroad photographers and history buffs to Central Texas. Unfortunately, the train’s route is not ideal for pacing the train or catching it at more than one location: Much of the route is inaccessible from public roads or blocked from view by thick forests, and the narrow roads and heightened security will compound event traffic. Trains recommends staking one location out early Thursday, and waiting until the train passes, rather than trying to travel to multiple locations.

The best spots will likely be within the cities of Hufsmith, Pinehurst, Magnolia, Todd Mission, Stoneham, Navasota, Millican, and Wellborn, Texas. The departure of the train from Spring and its arrival in College Station will be closed to the public. The campus of Texas A&M University will also be closed on Thursday.

The city of College Station said in a press release that spectators who want to watch the train approaching the library should stand on the east side of Wellborn Road in front of Kyle Field parking lot, or between Kyle Field parking and George Bush drive. The city warns that pedestrians should stay on the east side of Wellborn Road and should not attempt to cross the railroad tracks. Pedestrians may also view the train from the south side of George Bush drive between Wellborn Road and Penberthy Boulevard.

Photographers and chasers should anticipate that Magnolia, Navasota, and College Station will have some downtown streets closed to vehicular traffic in order to establish pedestrian viewing areas. Most of these cities will prohibit individuals from standing closer than 25 feet from the railroad tracks. Photographers should also be aware that Secret Service agents and other law enforcement officers might ask the public to keep a certain distance from the train, to stay off of highway overpasses and building roofs, or to not fly drones for photography in order to protect the security of those on the trains.

Several municipalities have told Trains that due to the high volume of people expected on the route, various law enforcement agencies ranging from the state to federal level will have a heightened presence. Photographers should be especially careful to stay off of private property and obey all traffic laws.






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