On Thursday, a 4,300-horsepower locomotive will carry Mr. Bush’s casket, along with relatives and close friends, for around 70 miles (113 kilometers). The journey through five small Texas towns is expected to take about two and a half hours, delivering the casket from suburban Houston to College Station. According to Bush spokesman Jim McGrath, the funeral train has been part of the official planning of his funeral for years.
There, a motorcade will take Bush to his presidential library at the university, where he will be laid to rest at a private ceremony next to his wife, Barbara, who died in April, and his daughter Robin, who died at age 3 in 1953.
This is the eighth funeral train in U.S. history and the first since Dwight D. Eisenhower’s body traveled from the National Cathedral in Washington through seven states to his Kansas hometown of Abilene 49 years ago. Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train was the first, in 1865.
The train’s sixth car, a converted baggage hauler called “Council Bluffs,” has been fitted with transparent sides to allow mourners lining the tracks on Thursday views of Bush’s flag draped coffin.
“We just rode on the railroads all the time, and I’ve never forgotten it,” Bush said at the time, recalling how he took trains, and often slept on them, during trips as a child with his family.